The Commercial Appeal
New Edition coming to Memphis with Keith Sweat, Guy
In March 2022, New Edition brought The Culture Tour to Fedexforum, playing for a near-capacity crowd at the Downtown Memphis venue.
The show, which also featured performances by Charlie Wilson and Jodeci, felt like a homecoming for New Edition. The group has been performing in the Mid-south since exploding onto the music scene in the 1980s.
Four decades on, New Edition still managed to dazzle the local faithful during a 2-hour concert spectacular.
Given the response to the show and tour last year — which proved a rousing success among fans hungry for unapologetically nostalgic post-pandemic entertainment — it’s little surprise that the group is headed back to Memphis this week.
This time, New Edition is headlining The Legacy Tour, which will also feature a reunion with fellow New Jack icons Keith Sweat and Guy, as well as a special guest appearance by R&B singer Tank.
This upcoming Fedexforum show, like the previous concert, is being presented by the Black Promoters Collective and is part of a 30-date arena tour that will cross the country in March and April.
In the statement announcing the tour, Black Promoters Collective CEO Gary Guidry said: “When we partnered with NE for ‘The Culture Tour,’ although I knew it would be stellar, their show exceeded my expectations; the guys were nothing short of miraculous. We are excited about partnering with New Edition to further the legacy of the foundation they have already laid.”
Here are three things to know ahead of Sunday’s show in Memphis.
The Legacy Tour lineup
Formed in Roxbury, Massachusetts, in 1978, New Edition — Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Bobby Brown, Ronnie Devoe and Ralph Tresvant — began as a boy band modeled after the Jackson 5.
The group broke out nationally in 1982 with the release of the infectious single “Candy Girl,” launching a seven-year run of hits from “Mr. Telephone Man” to “Can You Stand the Rain.” Brown left the band in 1985 for a solo career, with vocalist Johnny Gill eventually joining up as his replacement.
After the group split in 1989, the various members would find considerable success as solo acts and as part of Bell Biv Devoe. Starting in the mid-’90s, New Edition would reunite in various permutations. Last year’s show was the first time in more than a decade that the full six-man lineup — featuring Bobby Brown, Ralph Tresvant, Michael Bivins, Ricky Bell, Ronnie Devoe and Johnny Gill — had performed in Memphis.
What makes this current New Edition-led tour so interesting is the synergy of the lineup, in particular the inclusion of fellow New Jack Swing acts Keith Sweat and the original lineup of Guy, led by Teddy Riley.
Sweat first made his mark in 1987 with the release of his debut “Make It Last Forever,” and the hit “I Want Her.” A decade later, in 1997, Sweat formed the group LSG (Levert, Sweat, and Gill with Johnny Gill of New Edition), whose debut album went double platinum. In addition to his solo career, Sweat currently hosts the popular, nationally syndicated R&B evening radio show “The Sweat Hotel with Keith Sweat.”
If New Jack Swing has an architect, then it’s writer/producer and Guy leader Teddy Riley. Guy — featuring Aaron Hall and Damion Hall — launched in 1987, with their self-titled classic LP, and hit singles “I Like,” “Groove Me” and “Teddy’s Jam.” The group split up after their sophomore album, and Teddy Riley went on to produce hits for Bobby Brown, Michael
Jackson and Lady Gaga, among others.
What to expect at New Edition show
New Edition’s Legacy Tour will kick off officially Thursday, with a concert in South Carolina. After stops in Charlotte and Birmingham, the tour will arrive in Memphis on Sunday.
Because Memphis comes fairly early in the run, there won’t be much advance buzz on what the show will be like, but based on last year’s tour, concertgoers can expect all three main acts to focus on their hits and fan favorites. None of the acts have new albums to promote or are looking to dig too deep into their catalog, but rather serving up much-loved classics. Last year, New Edition’s set packed the best from the group’s catalog — all the way back to 1982’s “Candy Girl” through to 1988’s smash “If It Isn’t Love” and even 1995’s comeback single “Hit Me Off” — while incorporating songs from their various solo and post-new Edition projects.
This includes bangers from Brown (“My Prerogative,” “Every Little Step”), Gill (“Rub You The Right Way”), and
Tresvant (“Sensitivity”), as well as Bell Biv Devoe (“Poison,” “Do Me!”). The group has even been doing some throwback covers, including The Floaters “Float On” and David Oliver’s “Love TKO.”
Sweat and Guy are expected to deliver similarly sharp sets of favorites. In short, expect plenty of familiar jams.
Are New Edition tickets still available?
Given New Edition’s quick return to the Mid-south market, it’s clear the group remains a popular attraction and early ticket sales for the Fedexforum show back that up.
A quick look at Ticketmaster reveals that there are just a relative handful of prime front section seats — designated as Diamond and Gold premium tickets — remaining. Those range from $379.50 to $529.50.
Mostly, though, the seats available are in the mid-level Sapphire Premium area, costing $179.50. Upper level seating costs $79.50.
Based on the way the show has been selling to date, it’s very likely the event will be sold out by Sunday.