Soul crooner D'Angelo is back after a long hiatus.
Few artists embody the essence of soul better than this cat. D'Angelo made a name for himself in the 90's with albums like "Brown Sugar", "Voodoo" and "Yoda". He has collaborated with some of Hip Hop's finest acts including J-Dilla, Common and The Roots, but his most notorious claim to fame is arguably his music video for the single "how does it feel?" - in which the camera meanders about his naked torso in one single shot for the entire 4 minutes of the song, his ripped bod, sexy lyrics and penetrating vocal range amassed him a mega flock of female admirers, and male haters.
Last night, I queued in the snow at the 02 Brixton Academy for the said artists return to the stage. A capacity crowd enjoyed Bluey Robinson and DJ Stripes before the man himself graced the stage to thunderous applause and hair raising female squeaks - (moisture levels rose instantaneously). The first song started up with the house lights fully lit and focussed on the crowd, leaving the band and it's leader in the shadows, people were standing, squatting, leaning and squinting to make out the silhouette's on stage, everyone (especially the ladies) wanted to see if he's still in as good a shape as he was way back when.
When the house lights retracted back on to the stage, it revealed a cast 8 deep not including the star. The academy shook as the realization struck the masses that they were witnessing one of soul musics greatest modern icons. To say he's lost any of his magic is pure pork pies, sure, he may have put on a couple of kilo's in the booty area, and he was dressed in a ripped curtain, fusing together Gypsy and Gangsta fashion, but D'Angelo is nourishment for the auditory capacity and he didn't want to let his female followers down by denying them some upper torso action.
He played some new tunes off his forthcoming LP and made sure to include classic's like "Devils pie", "Chicken Grease" and a freshly slowed down version of "Sh*t, Damn, Motherfu*ker". His band was tight (as you would expect) - Greece's capital budget tight! His backup singers flowed, and harmonized seamlessly, striking those notes you couldn't imagine hitting without crotch impact.
The highlight of the evening was having a chance to interact and sing along with the legend. One man, one piano and 6000 people singing "Brown Sugar" - falsetto parts for the ladies, and the deep baritone chorus for the men. He played all the classics from "Brown Sugar" sat behind the keys and invited much help from the audience, who were only too happy to chime in. He sent the ladies into a frenzy when he hit the first few notes to "how does it feel?" - much anticipation was felt as to whether or not he was going to strip......... (he didn't).
The man was, and still is pure class. A vocalist with such an admirable scope for control, his shifts between vocal keys seemingly effortless. He fronted the stage with energy and aplomb and engaged with his band members (who were all phenomenally talented in their own rights) in a relaxed, fun way. He played the guitar like a demon, struck the keys with precision and took us all on a vocal journey not soon to be forgotten. He's back! and even now, the day after, I still have the Jonez in my bonez!.
Brixton Academy 02