NEW YORK — Trey Songz turned New York's Beacon Theatre into his own private "Sex Room" on Thursday. It was just him and a sea of adoring women who erupted into orgasmic screams at even the slightest gesture: a shirt button come undone, a lingering gaze. Oh, did he ask you, the single girl who came date-less to this first of two final stops on his Passion, Pain & Pleasure tour, if he could be your boyfriend for the night? Cue shrieking girls.
The R&B prince seemed to have no trouble finding that, um, special spot, kicking off the rollicking concert with the audacious "I Invented Sex," before slowing things down to the back-arching tempo that dominated the evening's first half. Suited up in a gray suit vest and matching trousers, the 25-year-old Virginia native descended from a riser and made his introductions.
"My name is Trey Songz." A simple enough greeting, but in this particular setting, it had the effect of setting matches to fireworks.
Above the squeals and awash in dim red lighting, Trigger Trey launched into a plaintive "I Need a Girl," also from his career-shaping 2009 album, Ready. He soon kicked it back to '07's Trey Day for "Can't Help But Wait" and "Last Time." The swoon-inducing singer also sampled from the newly released album that gave the tour its name, thrusting his way through the naughty "Love Faces" and "Massage."
By now, Trey was beginning the "we're on a first date" narrative he would masterfully unspool over the course of a stormy New York night. Like the guy you spend the post-dinner cab ride gushing to your girls about, Songz was exceedingly attentive and generous with compliments: "You look too good to spend the night by yourself," he said.
For this outing, Trey insisted on planning everything. The date would go from the crib to the club. After transporting fans on "Jupiter Love," he loosened his tie and leaned into the front row, allowing a concertgoer to (slowly) undo and remove the accessory altogether, one of the few moments the house turned quiet. Then he planted a kiss on her, and hush turned to howl.
Between his urgent vocals and the hypnotic pillow talk, Mr. Steal Your Girl seemed dangerously close to scooping up not only someone else's lady, but also to leaping ahead of his rivals to take the R&B throne out from under its reigning kings. After taking stabs at R. Kelly on record, Trey recently admitted to MTV News that his single biggest influence is in fact Kells. And to watch Songz in concert — giving a girl plucked from the audience a back rub, graphically simulating the various positions he'd like to try out on you — it's hard not to think of R. Kelly.
But where Kells' "You remind me of my jeep" game served up sex in a few clumsy metaphors, Trey's "panty-droppa" slow seduction is careful, wrapped in high-thread-count sheets.
"You can scream as loud as you want," a smiling Trigger, a.k.a. Mr. Double Entendre, told us midway through "Neighbors Know My Name."
Then ATL lyrical beast Ludacris turned up for his Songz-assisted "Sex Room," and we were officially getting comped bottle service at the hot spot. The bounce-heavy "Bottoms Up" electrified the room, as energetic Trey spit the banger fast and furious. For the closer, Trey had one of Brooklyn's finest, Fabolous, come through for ladies' favorite "Say Aah." Trigger challenged the audience to rap Loso's verse, which they did ecstatically for their homegrown MC.
Finally down to a black T-shirt, Trey seemed to sense it had to come off. He dabbed a sweaty brow with the drenched tee, then up it went, over his head ... and sailing into the waiting arms of hundreds and hundreds of incredibly satisfied women.
Opening act Monica was 14 when she dropped her first album in 1995; there was no Facebook, no Twitter and definitely no celebrity blogs, a sphere in which the now-29-year-old Monica has at times found herself a target. "I know who I am and whose I am," she said in response. But her commanding set was about expressing gratitude and empowerment. "Where all my real strong women at?" she asked, stalking the stage in a sequined superhero-inspired bodysuit.
The singer's alto, with its soaring vibrato, is a wonder. Sixteen years in the game, the former teen R&B queen proved why she's "Still Standing," using her tight opening set to revisit her early chart classics like "Don't Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)," "Before You Walk Out of My Life" and the still-swagged-out (Jermaine Dupri!) "First Night," but also recent hits like "So Gone," "Everything to Me" and "Love All Over Me." Fawning fans repaid the overjoyed star by singing along word-for-word and shouting their approval.