Live review: The-Dream at Highline Ballroom

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Arriving at The-Dream's midnight set at the Highline, I had a particular set of expectations, given what I knew about previous incarnations of his live performance (by which I mean lack thereof). And his lackluster performance reputation isn't really something for which you can fault The-Dream (real name: Terius Nash), as he's carved out his reputation behind the scenes, penning some of the past five year's hugest superhits for some of the biggest pop stars (Rihanna's "Umbrella," Beyonc's "Single Ladies"), while quietly crafting his own dense, thickly textured solo material on the side. But even before The-Dream appeared, you could certainly sense a massive retooling of his onstage demeanor.

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From the time that The-Dream's accompanying crew of female dancers marched onto the stage, it became clear that the spectacle would be more about the show, the clothes and the lights and less about The-Dream's own dancing and crooning. And rightly so, as it's obviously Mr. Nash's wish to remain reclining for a sizable chunk of the proceedings, though even this was pulled off smartly, giving the "Love King" a throne above the fray of the stage. It all came together, as the high-energy, super-sexual dancing (not a surprise given the nature of The-Dream's sex-driven song themes) controlled the atmosphere and let Nash reside in his own sphere of confident cool. Pimpin', on this night, was really easy. Helps when Fabolous swings by, too.

Nash opened with "Love King," the new single, before rattling through some of his other up-tempo jams like "Walkin' on the Moon." He jumped into a melody of recent guest spots he's recorded for others (including the hook for this year's somehow-still-underrated "Gangsta Luv") before moving into his signature territory, the slow jam, unleashing the massive "Put It Down" and letting the crowd help him hit the high notes on "Falsetto."

Though Nash came on stage wearing a silver-sparkling letter jacket with a large D emblazoned on the left breast, he later changed into an outfit more befitting King Koopa in the live-action Mario Bros. movie. But again, somehow this rhinestone-studded, spiked leather trench was pulled off with great ease by the low-key Dream—an urban king claiming his domain as the field's go-to hit maker. Since Nash stops well short of overexertion, we'll have to settle for him effortlessly sweating hooks as opposed to any kind of actual perspiration.

Omarion came next, an act whose music seems to exist solely as the bridge to intervals where the B2K grad would lift up his shirt, expose his abs, and generate hysteria from the single ladies in the house. No need to stay past "Bump Bump Bump," then.

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