On Saturday night, Lenny Williams delivered an entertaining, though extremely late set to a sharply dressed crowd of about 200. The New Golden Nugget on Fillmore Avenue played host to Williams, 60, who was lead singer for R&B group Tower of Power in the early 1970s. From 1974 through the present, Williams released about a dozen solo albums. In addition, younger audiences are familiar with Williams through Steve Harvey's immortalizing take on him in Spike Lee's "Kings of Comedy."
Early in his 55-minute set, which started at 12:10 a.m. -- Sunday, really -- he fittingly sang his 1978 song "Midnight Girl." In a sparkly pinstriped suit with a gold silk shirt and pocket square, Williams looked the part of soul statesman.
He next sang Hall and Oates' "Sarah Smile," which has become one of his performing standards. It perfectly suits his church-influenced voice.
Occasional microphone feedback did not stop Williams' wandering. As a performer used to working much larger venues, this cozy room was hardly a challenge.
Quick delivery of the 1973 Tower of Power hit "So Hard to Go" segued into William DeVaughn's 1974 song "Be Thankful for What You Got." Williams milked that song's universal affection by leading an extended a cappella version.
Williams' patter was decidedly blue. He acknowledged the music biz's proclivity for mind-altering, supposedly creativity-enhancing substances. He lustily complimented several women. Using his status as a love god a la Al Green, he flirted, playing "name that tune" and giving away copies of his new CD.
His standard blues medley goes from "Rock Me Baby" to "Night Time is the Right Time." Throughout the show, songs were kept short. Some audience members, many old-school fans, were grateful for this, considering the hour and their expectation of having been home by 11.
"Cause I Love You," with his full on, trademark passionate "oh, oh, ohs," is the one that makes the ladies swoon. He did it, the song they were waiting to hear.
Although showtime was called for 8 p.m., local band Skin Tight did not open until 8:45. The musically solid though sartorially mismatched four-piece outfit got things started with "Disco Inferno." They favored familiar songs.
Short Change, a four-piece instrumental combo, and FWB, a three-man singing group, played a combined set. The vocals, costumes and precision choreography were impressive. Their drum machine was not.