From Janelle Monae in the Bronx to Fall Out Boy in Brooklyn, the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII has been packed with incredible concerts from some of our favorite artists. But when we caught TLC at Beacon Theater Thursday night in Manhattan, something about their show felt especially appropriate—after all, nothing fits the Super Bowl like a comeback story.
After suffering the devastating loss of Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes in 2002, TLC went under the radar for a long time. But 2013 saw Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozanda "Chilli" Thomas release "Meant to Be," the first new TLC song in eight years. Last year also saw VH1 premiere a biopic of the trio that became the most-watched TV movie of the year and gave VH1 its best ratings in five years.
So it only made sense that VH1's Super Bowl Blitz Concert series included TLC, one of the most fiercely original R&B/rap acts of the '90s and '00s. And as their Thursday night concert in New York proved, they've still got the voices, the attitude and the moves that made them internationally beloved in the first place.
Backed by football jersey-clad dancers, T-Boz and Chilli took the stage in orange jumpsuits and hit the crowd with "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" and "What About Your Friends," two cuts from their debut album. They dropped a couple mashups of other singles before drenching the stage in red light for—naturally—"Red Light Special," a performance complete with chair-straddling dance moves.
The majority of the crowd looked too young to have seen TLC in concert during their heyday, but it was clear everyone at Beacon Theater had grown up listening to them. iPhones in the air, the audience sang along with every line of every song.
TLC ditched the jumpsuits after a few songs, revealing Chilli's shimmering black pants and razor-sharp abs. "Creep" and "Unpretty" were beautifully executed, but the choreography on "No Scrubs" was perfect—any busters in New York/New Jersey for Super Bowl XLVIII better watch their back.
For their pre-encore finale, the duo led a group of gospel singers (and the crowd) through a recreation of their famous "Waterfalls" choreography. When Left Eye's voice kicked in over the speakers, T-Boz and Chilli stepped to the sides of the stage and made way for a ballerina to perform a twitchy, funky yet elegant dance to their fallen sister's verse. For the encore, they wrapped things up with "Meant to Be," the elegiac new song about their origins.
After the insanely high-energy start to the evening, it was a warm, contemplative way to send their fans back into the bitter New York night.
TLC Setlist at Beacon Theater, January 30
- Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg
- What About Your Friends
- Silly Ho/Hat 2 Da Back
- Baby-Baby-Baby/Diggin On You
- Red Light Special
- No Scrubs
- Meant to Be
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