Common Kool Haus, Toronto ON July 26, 2005
Published Sep 01, 2005Common is riding the biggest wave of his career on the strength of Be, his latest album deemed a "classic" by both the press and the people. His performance to a packed Kool Haus audience was a celebration of his new album, the rejuvenation that came with it, and his place in rap history. He didn't waste any time getting started. Ten-thirty p.m. is distinctly early for the headliner of a rap concert to start their show. However, that's precisely when the stage was blanketed in red light and the electric piano of "Be" filled the venue. Backed by DJ Dummy, a drummer and a keyboardist, Common, dressed in jeans, a yellow button-up and wearing his new attitude proudly on his sleeve, explained to the crowd how Be stands for "basement experience." That is what the concert was going to be. By 11:30 p.m. Common, sweat-soaked in a cotton V-neck, was a dynamo gliding over the width of the stage in front of his rhythm section. He had performed "Be," "Chi-City," his verses from "Respiration" and "Get 'em High," then free-styled into "Afrodesiac" and raised the energy level beyond a basement experience to that of a controlled music festival. In the middle of "Thelonious," on cue when he says, "dude in Wildstyle," Common's live break dancing portion of the show began. It's a trademark of his concerts and a knockout display of his physical passion for the culture. If he couldn't dance, this part of the show would've tainted the whole night, but Common's up-rock to windmill to freeze was crisp and the Kool Haus was bananas. Then "T.R.O.Y." came on. Common used a live version of the hip-hop classic as an intro for "Used to love H.E.R." This elevated the whole experience into the hip-hop stratosphere. Common skilfully brought it back home with "Corners," followed by a succession of hits like "The Light" and "6th Sense." At 11:50 p.m., the powerful show had ended and the Kool Haus was soaked in Common's rap legacy.