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112 brings R&B hits, harmonies to stage

Lauren Carter

Apparently 112 never got the memo that R&B is dying and they should reinvent themselves as techno-pop artists or look for a new line of work.

The quartet — comprised of Quinnes “Q” Parker, Daron Jones, Marvin “Slim” Scandrick and Michael Keith — brought heartfelt, danceable hits and gospel-tinged harmonies to the Wonderland Ballroom in Revere last Friday night, proving that the power of R&B remains strong even in an era of microwave music and diluted dance hybrids.

The group rose to fame on Bad Boy Records in the late ‘90s, and it’s been nearly a decade since they’ve released an album or scored a hit single, but time has apparently treated the foursome well. Sporting a mix of black and white vests, blazers and button-down shirts accented by fitted caps, hipster glasses and Slim’s blinding watch, they put a grown and sexy spin on R&B swagger. Synchronized choreography had members sweating by the third song, and they genuinely seemed to be having fun.

Their 50-minute set allowed just enough time to escape the mediocrity of the mainstream landscape and work a few hundred fans into a frenzy. Hard-hitting opener “Only You” and chart-toppers like “It’s Over Now,” “Cupid” and “Peaches and Cream” served as reminders that in the not-too-distant past, substance and raw emotion — rather than fist-pumping — played a central role in urban music. Members traded lead vocals and fans crowded near the stage and clawed at whoever happened to be front and center.

No R&B show would be complete without a segment dedicated to the single ladies, and 112 obliged with a shirt removal session during “Anywhere,” when Q revealed his fitness calendar-worthy abs and serenaded females in the crowd. The uptempo “Dance With Me” had the venue shaking, while the extended gospel interlude that was “Playa” likely changed a few lives.

The group also squeezed in a medley of throwback hits by Jodeci, Boyz II Men and New Edition and paid homage to the late, great Notorious B.I.G. — their former Bad Boy labelmate and frequent collaborator — on “Sky’s The Limit” and the show-closer “I’ll Be Missing You.”

There’s no word on whether 112 is recording new material, but their brief foray into a catalogue of emotionally charged hits clearly left fans wanting more.

The show began with multiple DJ sets that spanned from reggae to classic hip hop and dragged on for roughly an hour longer than needed. Time spent listening to shouts of “Y’all ready to see 112?” would have been better spent actually seeing 112.

Friday’s lineup also featured separate opening sets by talented up-and-comers Ru Williams and Ja’Shayla, who mixed choreography with covers and original songs and reinforced the notion that R&B, albeit under the radar, is alive and well.