By Chad Bullock
Multi-talented musician Ryan Leslie rocked out a special concert in support of the release of his new album Transition at the Nokia Theater in New York City on Friday night (November 6). Leslie had the rabid crowd rapt all night with a combination of strong vocals and a daring sense of theatricality.
Leslie kicked his set off with a bang, as he appeared through a cloud of smoke inside a huge clear box. "They try to box me in," he proclaimed as he quickly jumped out of the box and off of the stage. The crowd was slightly confused about why the singer left the stage, but eventually they realized that the man in the box was not Ryan. The real R Les had entered the room from the back, worked his way to the front with the help of a few huge security guards and created an unforgettable entrance.
Leslie 90-minute set included songs from both of his albums, peaking with "How It Was Supposed to Be," "Diamond Girl" and fan favorite "Gibberish" from his 2008 debut album. The crowd ate up the newer work too, giddily bouncing along to "Never Gonna Break Up" and "Something That I Like."
Midway through the show, Leslie handed the stage over to new protégé Krys Ivory, who performed her song "Next 2 Ya" and returned later to close out the show. He wrapped up a satisfying evening with one of his most beloved tunes, "Addiction." Leslie replaced the track's guest vocals (supplied by Cassie on the album) with the crowd's shouting, as he swung the mic back and forth in between verses.
Leslie was reflective about his stellar year. "When I first started there were a couple of questions about whether or not I should be able to have a career an artist," he told the crowd. "Some people told me I should just stick to being a producer. Eight months ago I could only get 400 people in the room and tonight we got 2,000 people." The crowd roared with approval and Leslie smiled, ending the show on an inspirational note that reminded everybody in the room that anything was possible.