Floetry / Goapele Phoenix, Toronto ON - April 19, 2006

I really didn’t know what to expect from this neo-soul double bill. I knew that British neo-soul/hip-hop duo Floetry (singer/songwriter Marsha "the Songstress” Ambrosius and MC/songwriter Natalie "the Floacist” Stewart) would bring the heat, but was fearful that relative newcomer Goapele (pronounced "GWA-pelay”) would dampen the incense vibe with a weedy stage presence. This isn’t a diss — I dig her music; I just hadn’t seen home-girl perform live before and in her videos she looks boring. But colour me impressed, the San Francisco Bay Area hottie (wear them tight jeans, girl!) is part of a new wave of soul artists that are churning out inventive music determinedly distanced from the commercial conception of what R&B should be. Her short set relied heavily on material from her latest Change It All album, using her punky personality and profound pipes to give life to joints "4am,” "Love Me Right” and the title track. By the time she wrapped things up with her breakthrough neo-soul joint "Closer” from her 2004 debut, many a believer was converted. Between Marsha’s five-octave vocals and Natalie’s too-cool-for-school spoken word, it didn’t matter which songs Floetry pulled out of their three-album-deep discography. Well, that’s not entirely true — I needed to hear "Supastar,” "Getting Late,” "Say Yes” and "Floetic.” I was thusly rewarded with almost note-perfect renditions, crappy sound levels be damned. It was a satisfying night; Floetry and Goapele exemplify organically orchestrated soul music that fits in perfectly with the "new age revolution” espoused by the Floecist’s in-between song musings. "Fuck your politics,” Floecist coos at one point. "Success by any means necessary.” Now that’s a credo I can get behind.