Despite Frankie’s weak vocals, MAZE still ‘Silky Soul Singers’

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BALTIMORE, MD — The Sat., April 21 performance by Frankie Beverly and MAZE, was, as expected – well-received by the nearly-full Events Center at the University Maryland Baltimore County facility.

Opening Act Ruff Endz offered a new-skool RnB show, featuring their two super hits “No More” (2000) and the ballad, “Somone to Love” (2002). The Baltimore-bred quartet, backed by recorded tracks, did a yeoman’s job considering their lack of live-instrumentation. And yes, they received a spirited home-town reception at the conclusion of their show. But it was Philly legends MAZE, who brought the largely old-skool crowd out on this chilly, Spring evening. Frankie’s group entered the stage with a consistently powerful set-list full of hits. Namely, Laid-Back Kinda Guy, Southern Girls, Feel that I’m Needed, We Are One, Can’t Get Over You and Running Away – and this set the tone for the remainder of an energeticaly-soufully funky kinda night.

Obviously, Frankie’s vocal issues are continuing to haunt the living legend – but somehow, he manages to overcome his physical burden. His fans are likewise able to lookover his short comings without much public complaints, though several internet articles spotlight his troubles. In fact, it’s even ill-reported that Beverly suffers from throat cancer, a fact he quickly disputes via the group’s website.

Regardless of his weakened voice, Frankie still maintains that Philly-Freeze coolness, similar to his days when the group started as The Butlers, and later renamed Raw Soul – white attire and baseball cap still intact.

During this Baltimore show, Beverly introduced the entire band, including lone original member with Frankie, Ronald “Roame” Laurie on percussion. Following the introduction, he offered a brief history of the band, reminiscing of their relocation from Philly to Los Angeles just before Marvin Gaye helped the band get signed to Capitol Records, name-change to MAZE and release its debut record “While I’m Alone” in the Spring of ’77. A gold album would follow, and the rest is history nearly 50 years later.

In fact, their tune “Silky Soul Singer” was written in homage to their mentor, Marvin Gaye.

They ended the show with their anthem “Before I Let Go” which pulled their loyal legion of fans into the aisles dancin’ and singin’ along with the band. The UMBC facility holds 5,000 patrons.

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