Kool Haus, Toronto, ON, March 5
But dropping a show on a city at a moment's notice and drawing a comfortable crowd to a venue as spacious as Toronto's Kool Haus is the type of thing you can do when you're as consistent and captivating an entertainer as Badu has been over the 16 years of her long and winding career. The heady mix of style and bravado, her cooler-than-a-fan demeanour, and — perhaps most significantly — an inspiringly easy-going attitude are what have always made her sets so thoroughly impressive and satisfying, and this night was no different.
The first surprise of the night came as Badu strode casually out onto the stage and began performing songs from Mama's Gun, not the Baduizm set list that had been hinted at in online flyers for the event. Little matter, though, as those tunes went down just as easy, and the fact that her second album was a little fresher in the minds and lives of fans no doubt made for an entirely different listening experience. The decision to cover a record from start to finish generally finds its success in the strength of the material, and while there's no questioning the Grade A status of Mama's Gun, there was a palpable feeling-out period as the singer began her ascent towards the disc's meaty midsection.
The show's true fire, both in Badu's own level of animation and in that of a room still taking things in, came with the self-embracing sentiment of "Cleva," sparking an enthralling energy that carried through emotionally charged fare like "A.D. 2000," "Orange Moon" and "In Love with You." Erykah began to coolly and playfully interact with the audience, calling on them to sing out lines, while similarly directing members of her competent band (which included sister Nayrok and Millie Jackson's daughter Keisha on backing vocals) to drop lines like so. By the time a well-warmed Erykah reached the theatrical show-stopper "Green Eyes," the singer was letting all of her slickness and poise shine, clearly having fun with things as she acted out each of the confounding mental machinations expressed in the song's (for some) all-too-familiar lyrics.
With an enveloping feeling of hanging with family now draped over the room, Badu closed out the remainder of her set with an extended, vampy version of "Other Side of the Game," as well as a few choice cuts from Worldwide Underground, with surprise guest DJ (and producer of Biggie's "One More Chance," among other hits), Rashad "Ringo" Smith in tow. The overwhelming sense as you left the venue was one of wonderment at how this woman, with that powerful voice, commanding presence and so much expectation resting on her shoulders could make what she does onstage look so natural and easy. It's a trait that has always laid at the root of Badu's charm, and really is something to witness.
ReviewsDec 10, 2014
GoapeleThe Hoxton, Toronto ON, December 9
Within the R&B world, Goapele Mohlabane has been lumped into the "highly underrated" category, with the bulk of the folks in attendance at h...
ReviewsMay 23, 2015
JungleSasquatch Stage, George WA, May 22
Dressed with a camouflage theme, Jungle jammed out their funky sound, and their '70s New York disco-meets-Detroit soul was the perfect after...
ReviewsMay 23, 2015
Mobb DeepBaltimore Soundstage, Baltimore MD, May 21
One of the most unexpected performances of the festival may stand as one of its best; about a month before the event, Deathfest organizers a...
ReviewsMay 20, 2015
PrinceSony Centre, Toronto ON, May 19
Wow. What a show. When it was announced this past Saturday (May 16) that the enigma born Prince Rogers Nelson set a Toronto date for his...
ReviewsMay 11, 2015
bizZarhDrake Underground, Toronto ON, May 10
The Punch Records: Best of British Showcase was scheduled to begin at 6:30 on Sunday (May 10), rounding out the end of Canadian Music Week, ...
ReviewsMay 10, 2015
Joey Bada$$Danforth Music Hall, Toronto ON, May 9
It's been three years since the release of 1999, the widely praised debut mixtape from Joey Bada$$, and the 21-year-old rapper still has a l...
ReviewsMay 10, 2015
Jazz CartierDanforth Music Hall, Toronto ON, May 9
Following his sold out, swinging-from-the-rafters Friday (May 8) show at The Garrison, which served as a coronation performance for the risi...
ReviewsMay 09, 2015
JMSNTattoo, Toronto ON, May 8
Frontman of a power-pop band; major label producer and songwriter; background vocalist on Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d city. Detroit n...