Thursday, 28 April 2011
FOR THE RECORD: RAPHAEL SAADIQ LIVE @ O2 Shepherds Bush, London (28/04/11)
'The Way I See It', 'Stone Rollin', 'Instant Vintage' from 'Ray Ray'.
You don't get many gigs like this. As a matter of fact you don't get many nights like this...period. If you have mistakenly never seen this guy in concert, or even more criminally never heard of him you would do no wrong and find no better thing to do then book tickets for the next time he's in your town. Sure this writers a star struck fan who got to meet the humble and charming, genius singer/songwriter but still if you took in tonight as your first experience into the neo-soul singers matrix you'd simply agree with me. This performance and evening was so perfect that this review can't begin to do it justice, but let's try.
I'd seen him two years prior when his literally classic and groundbreaking album 'The Way I See It' hit, so I thought I knew what to expect...but I was wrong. Saadiq's soul was bared even more in an even better live show that left my foot, hand and head moving all night from 'Love That Girl' to '100 Yard Dash' and all the timeless, modern-day classics. A day before the wedding of the year, R&B royalty reigned supreme. All the crowd, singing word-for-word where in unison as Saadiq had the women in his hand and the men in his pocket, singing to his, Stevie Wonder and Earth Wind & Fire's song sheet. The night was being filmed, and the audience where on their best DVD behaviour but not because they wanted to be on T.V, but because the night called for it.
Raphael looked like Buddy Holly with his guitar but sang songs like Marvin Gaye. As a matter of fact that may be the best way to describe his 60's throwback style...but wait! Raphael Saadiq has his own style and is his own man, sure his gigs and latest music may be a testimonial to that classic Motown sound but it's no memorial. The musical art-form is no longer lost and it's because Saadiq is bringing it to the modern day with his unique twist. Showing that the art of the love song is far from dead and gone. Singing songs from his classic albums and some from his hot, 'The Way I See It' same vein 'Stone Rollin'' latest (like the title track or epic 'Good Man') the singer kept rolling out the hits and the good-times. The Tony! Toni! Tone! and Lucy Pearl hits came out too, (as did a cool remix to his D'Angelo assisted classic 'Be Here') and the mixed crowd of fans young and old didn't miss a beat. This wasn't just real music, it was real fans too. Tonight reminded us of how good things can get and how deep music can touch your soul.
His band and backing singers where so musically in-tune with their lead and talented and diverse that they could have all held the stage on their own, but still the man of the evening was Saadiq. Note perfect-he set the tone. Stylish in suits or his encore Summer garb-this was a grand design. Even off mic singing hit after hit Saadiq would smile, clap, click and ad-lib through the night showing he was just as into the music as his audience was. Charismatic and confident he held the crowd as well as the stage. The raw but fresh way he danced and sang off mic or off stage spoke volumes for his passion and devotion to his soul craft, and the feel-good times and smiles he brought to his audience was a refreshing infection. Now that's real music. It hasn't felt or sounded this good since the last time Ray, Ray hit the road and a concert hasn't been this classic since Sam Cooke hit the Harlem Square Club in 1963. Once again, the singer who is about to redefine music yet again, reinvented the live show. TIM DAVID HARVEY.