R&B singer Trey Songz may want to more carefully consider the acts he takes out on the road with him.
Choosing newcomer Miguel, who joined Songz’s “Chapter V” tour that came to the Fox Theatre Sunday night, was smart. Miguel is definitely one to watch, a hot and authentic talent with just two albums.
But Miguel easily upstaged Songz, despite having a shorter, smaller set that was big were it counted most. Miguel’s set, clearly rooted in classic acts such as Prince and Jackie Wilson with his flair for the dramatic, proved more memorable.
Miguel, dressed in a red vintage suit and sporting his trademark pompadour, was a wonder as he performed music from 2010’s “All I Want is You” and this year’s great new funk-psychedelic album “Kaleidoscope Dream,” mixing improved vocals with natural moves on songs such as “Sure Thing,” “Quickie,” “The Thrill,” “Use Me,” “Lotus Flower Bomb” and of course the lovely “Adorn.”
Miguel has come a long way since an appearance at the Imperial Palace just last year.
Headliner Songz boasted a 10-piece band including a horn section and what may have been his fullest sound to date as he plowed through his rather packed songbook with songs such as “Dive In,” “Heart Attack,” “Love Faces” and “Can’t Help But Wait.”
The hits kept coming — “I Need a Girl,” “Unusual,” “Can’t Be Friends” — with Songz delivering earnestly but without bringing anything fresh to the table.
“Don’t Be Scared,” an album cut from his “Chapter V” album, came with the perfect intro — the trailer for his upcoming movie “Texas Chainsaw 3D,” in which Songz apparently runs around a lot with his shirt off.
It was a prelude to the moment in his concert when he inevitably takes off his shirt, a longtime staple for Songz shows.
Speaking of skin, “Neighbors Know My Name” was introduced with a spicy video of Songz and a woman, both in their underwear, canoodling.
After a string of ballads and midtempo songs, Songz brought in his upbeat hits including “Say Ahh,” “Bottoms Up” and “2 Reasons.”
Near the end of his set, he had the house lights turned up and pointed out various fans in the crowd, describing them by their clothing, tattoos or other distinguishing features. “I see you, baby, with your spikes on your shoulder,” he said to one woman.
Also on the bill was Elle Varner. Varner boasts a sweet and strong voice mixed with a bit of a rasp on songs such as “So Fly,” “Only Want to Give It to You” and “Refill” from her “Perfectly Imperfect” album. “Refill” featured a splash of Frank Ocean’s “Thinking About You.”
All three artists were nominated for Grammy Awards last week, most notably Miguel, whose “Adorn” is up for the prestigious song of the year.