Three men and a residency: (from left) Shawn Stockman, Wanya Morris, and Nathan Morris at Mirage.
Confidently skipping the usual Vegas-size razzle-dazzle buildup, ’90s R&B superstars Boyz II Men quietly slipped onto the Strip this past spring. But it wasn’t long before their resident show at Mirage had exploded in popularity, with women rushing the stage night after night to grab a rose during “I’ll Make Love to You.”
On July 6, the group hits Mandalay Bay as part of The Package Tour, with New Kids on the Block and 98 Degrees, before returning to their Mirage residency in August. Fans will hum along to “Water Runs Dry,” “End of the Road,” “On Bended Knee,” and other hits woven throughout the show, which also features a solid Motown section and some covers in a program mixing love songs and up-tempo tracks. By the time the Boyz break into their “Motownphilly” finale, every female’s heart will be soaring.
Why did you sign on to tour with New Kids on the Block and 98 Degrees?
Nathan Morris: We haven’t done an arena tour in a long time, since 1997 or 1998. We’re used to doing more intimate settings, like here in Las Vegas, so not being able to see the people in the back is something we haven’t done in quite a while. It’s going to be exciting.
Have you talked with any other musicians, like 98 Degrees’ Jeff Timmons, about what it’s like to call Las Vegas home?
NM: We will be talking to him more during rehearsals. He already talked a little bit about it, and obviously he’s really used to it now with what he does here.
When you’re not performing at Mirage, what do you like to do while in town?
Shawn Stockman: Gamble! And frequent the nightclubs. I haven’t been able to go to 1 Oak yet here at Mirage, but I like Revolution, and Tryst at Wynn. I can’t do the blackjack thing. There’s a lot going on that you have to think about.
NM: I just like to take everybody’s money!
I heard you all stopped by MGM’s new club Hakkasan.
NM: That’s a bad, bad place for guys like me. I could really get on the news in there.
You seem, however, to have kept a lot of Three men and a residency: (from left) Shawn Stockman, Wanya Morris, and Nathan Morris at Mirage. your personal lives out of the media.
SS: We didn’t come up in the generation that’s delving into the Twitter and Facebook age, where your life is an open book. We respect our family’s privacy. When you have kids, you want to be able to protect them.
Do you have a favorite song to perform?
NM: We’ve been performing them all for so long that it just depends on the night. We feel the love that the fans give us. They’ll give us a little bit more energy on a certain song, and that gives us a little bit more to get into it.
If you could specialize in the register of one of your bandmates, whose voice would you most like to mimic?
NM: I would mimic a little bit of Shawn’s tonal qualities and a little bit of Wanya’s strength, which a lot of people just can’t do. They just can’t do it as consistently as sweet as Shawn’s vocal or as powerful as Wanya’s.
Wanya Morris: It would be Nate more so than anybody because he has the ability to have the low register, and his falsetto is high. And his strength within that is just bananas.\
NM: We love each other’s voices.
In the beginning, were you fearful that your a cappella style would be too outside the box to propel you to mainstream fame?
NM: Not at all. When we recorded our first a cappella album, most of the people at the label and the radio staff there didn’t believe they would play an a cappella album on the radio in 1991. We put it out, and it changed the face of music at that time.
You’ve been at this for nearly a quarter-century now. Are the dance moves getting any harder to do?
NM: Aww, you can’t say it like that! No, actually. I think the whole Vegas thing has given us all a breath of life. It was something we knew we wanted to do, but we didn’t know how much we wanted to do it until we did it. It gives us a lot of energy. Boyz II Men’s Mirage residency resumes on August 9. For tickets, call 702-792-7777 or visit mirage.com. The Package Tour hits Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 6. For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com.