Ginuwine at City Winery: A Perfect Pairing

If you had told me I’d be spending the night before Thanksgiving seeing R&B legend Ginuwine, I wouldn’t have believed you. But it happened, it really, truly did, and it was amazing and nostalgic all at once. And to make it even more perfect? Ginuwine played City Winery. And they were selling bottles of Ginuwine wine with his face on it. Yep. I’m not making this up. This night was about to be ideal.

Though the house was packed for his 7pm performance, there was also a 10pm performance. Therefore, his introducers attempted to get the crowd amped up since it was quite early to be listening to “Pony,” but once he stepped on stage, there was no need for any hype man.

Ginuwine’s been in the music game for two decades now, but he hasn’t missed a beat. With both an appearance and voice that are seemingly ageless, Ginuwine turned all the ladies in the crowd into the biggest fangirls in an instant. City Winery, a typically quaint and easygoing venue, was transformed into a party scene, with most Ginuwine fans standing up and dancing for the duration of the show. It was pretty hard not to do so when he opened with “Hell Yeah,” emerging with the two backup singers he’s been working with for his entire career.

He stuck to the hits throughout his hour and 15 minute long set, much to the delight of audience members. We heard a slightly sped up version of “So Anxious,” a spot-on rendition of “In Those Jeans,” and many more sensual crooners. One of the night’s top moments occurred when Ginuwine told us he was going to sing a song about the sentiments of Thanksgiving, after which he sang the ballad “Differences.” He frequently tipped the mic to the crowd, letting us sing along and finish verses, which apparently was easy for us all to do as a collective.

Ginuwine took a break from his original songs to sing a Michael Jackson medley, including “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and “The Way You Make Me Feel.” It was kind of weird, but really, it’s Ginuwine, so he can truly do whatever he wants and it will still work. (Yep, even when he brought out handcuffs for some reason unbeknownst to me and said some things I won’t write here.) The crowd was up and dancing at this point, the energy in the room palpable and unwavering.

The pinnacle moment of the set occurred when the first notes of “Pony” dropped, as cheers erupted throughout the entirety of City Winery’s concert hall. Soon after, Ginuwine brought out a Magic Mike-style male dancer, who stripped off his shirt and danced up on the mic stand as Ginuwine stepped off the stage to sing to the crowd. Were we shocked with the backup dancer choice? Not really. Now, Ginuwine was 10 feet away from me, singing into the crowd as everyone reveled in R&B nostalgia. With an epic end to the show, Ginuwine proved that with two decades in the game, he’s still got it.

Sarah Brooks
Sarah Brooks

Sarah Brooks is a native Chicagoan with a penchant for words, music, art and this magnificent city of Chicago. Raised on The Beatles and learning the violin at age 9, Sarah’s passion for music began early in life. Her musical obsessions include Wilco, Otis Redding, Neko Case and Real Estate, but they truly change daily. She can be found at a concert, trying a new restaurant, or running along the lakefront path.