Only five microphone stands were set up for New Edition Saturday night at Mohegan Sun, and only five members of the six-strong band took the stage when the lights came up.
Bobby Brown wasn’t among them.
Just when it seemed like Brown was sitting out the show — following an abbreviated appearance at the New Jersey funeral of ex-wife Whitney Houston — he sauntered on stage at the start of “Hit Me Off,” prompting huge cheers from the audience.
When it was his turn to introduce himself before “Jealous Girl,” Brown offered blessings to Houston, who died Feb. 11 in Los Angeles. She was 48
“I love you,” he said.
Apart from that, and Brown mentioning later that he felt “out of it today,” the show was business as usual as New Edition — also featuring Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Ronnie DeVoe, Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant — sashayed through its catalog, backed by a six-piece band, and a generous amount of recorded vocal tracks.
The prototypical boy band hit all the high points, bopping through “Popcorn Love,” “Mr. Telephone Man” and “If It Isn’t Love, and making a medley out of “Cool It Now” and “Count Me Out.” New Edition also threw in newer tunes including “Can You Stand The Rain.”
Although their voices have thickened somewhat over the years, their choreography remained tight and the singers displayed nimble footwork (though Brown, ever the bad boy with his shirt tail hanging out, sometimes seemed disinterested in keeping up).
Toward the end of the 90-minute show, songs from their non-New Edition projects tumbled out, including Brown’s defiant “My Prerogative,” and Bell Biv DeVoe’s hit “Poison,” which closed the main set.
For an encore of sorts (they never actually left), the singers sat on stools at the front of the stage as Brown thanked the crowd for its support over the years, before ending with the grateful slow jam “Home Again.”
As the song wound down, Brown’s bandmates praised his strength of heart for performing after enduring a tough day, and it looked like Brown might have been crying.
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