DALLAS -- Predictably, the Black Eyed Peas have hordes of junk in their touring trunk. But would it all be jiggered and jiggled well enough Friday to get a sold-out American Airlines Center humping?
As the performance's Matrix-green CGI emcee would likely answer (with a pre-programmed smirk): Affirmative.
The Peas' glittery, hit-packed 100-minute set proved to be a delightful, multisensory beat massage that incorporated a host of imaginative prop trickery: Taboo's crowd-buzzing ride on a straight-outta- Tron light cycle, will.i.am's campy robo-D.J. spin session and Fergie's sultry schizophrenic costume changes were topped only by the inventive proto-alien ensembles worn by the show's half-dozen dancers.
That phalanx of gizmos (as well as some stunning laser and hi-def projections) only accented a fun and masterful 20-track performance. The show started with Let's Get It Started and Rock Your Body and wrapped with a somewhat freeze-dried encore of The E.N.D.'s pair of chart-toppers: Boom Boom Pow and I Gotta Feeling.
That the Peas still employ a live backing band is key to the magic, proved here by Pump It -- presented as a roasting of guitarist George Pajon Jr.'s Dallas Cowboys homer-ism that became the evening's highlight because it revealed the Peas' human side. Even the floor producers were laughing at will.i.am's wisecracks. Such moments made up for occasional indulgent oddities such as Apl.De.Ap's quizzical solo rap, will.i.am's stressful (albeit impressive) free-style rhyming using crowd-farmed text messages as keywords, and Fergie's staunch three-song turn through her hits from her solo album, The Dutchess. But those contrived individual dalliances are wholly logical since the Peas' reach now extends beyond their genesis as a collective pod of mainstream urban pop.
In retrospect of such an entertaining concert, that begs a curious question: If the Peas have equaled the sum of its parts before, is that sum in danger of reduction despite The E.N.D.'s commercial success?
As Mr. CGI emcee might respond: Negative. Now: Initiate rocking that body.
Mike Daniel is a Dallas-based freelance writer.