The Black Eyed Peas show off their sophisticated and mellow sides at a concert to benefit charities

Black Eyed Peas throw their own party
Concert to benefit charities showcases
new album from Brazilian Sergio Mendes.

By Steve Baltin
Special to The Times

With their energetic rhymes, infectious hooks and unabashed good-time
lyrics, L.A.'s Black Eyed Peas have become one of music's most popular
party bands in recent years. But on Monday night at the Henry Fonda
Theatre, the group, with the aid of Brazilian star Sergio Mendes and a
slew of big-name guests, showed off its sophisticated and mellow sides.

Although the Grammy week show was another in a long line of the Peas'
annual Peapod shows, benefiting youth charities, the gig was built
around Mendes' latest release, "Timeless," a collection produced by
Black Eyed Peas architect Will.I.Am that brings together the worlds
of samba and hip-hop.

With Mendes on keyboards, Will as host, and a colorful stage befitting
the warm and pleasant Brazilian grooves of the album, the duo played
several tracks from the forthcoming disc (due Valentine's Day).

As has been the case in recent years, the Peapod format offered several
surprises. Among those re-creating their contributions to the record
live were Erykah Badu on "That Heat," India.Arie on the rhythmic, sexy title
track, John Legend on "Please Baby Don't," a ballad with airy samba
rhythms, and the crowd-pleasing duo of Justin Timberlake and rapper
Pharoahe Monch on "Loose Ends," a song that effectively blended a
lengthy Mendes' keyboard solo, raps from Monch and Will and Timberlake's
soulful vocals.

The Black Eyed Peas made a late appearance on the boisterous "Mas Que
Nada," a traditional Brazilian favorite that found the Peas rapping
over the percussion-heavy beat. Bolstered by a group of feather-clad dancers
the song became a full party on stage.

Though the Peas played on for a brief set on their own after "Mas Que
Nada," that number, with its festive spirit and pure melding of two
musical cultures, was the real denouement for this joyous occasion.