Roberta Flack and Peabo Bryson are both crooners of the bedroom. Their lyrics are soap opera tales of falling in and out of love, and they linger over the big, tearjerker notes with the obsessiveness of lovers. Last night at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, they acted out the romantic melodrama during their climactic duet with real caresses and kisses. It was corny but effective.
Roberta Flack and her band -- which included top studio singer Luther Vandross and fusion keyboardist Barry Miles -- played the first set. Flack forsook the urgency of soul for the polish of mainstream pop. On Stevie Wonder's "Don't Make Me Wait Too Long," she milked each note expertly but allowed the beat to slip away. In the second set, Peabo Bryson glided through his hits -- such as "Reachin' for the Sky" -- like a smooth lover who has his routine down pat.
As Bryson exited, the lights went down. When the lights came back, Flack was at the piano starting "The oser I Get to You." Bryson -- minus his shirt -- came up behind her and massaged her shoulders as she played. Flack got up and followed him as he sang his verse. Finally they joined voices and bodies at mid-stage. This finale had the spark that was missing from the romantic ballads of their predictable sets.