Mos Def Harbourfront, Toronto ON - June 23, 2005
Published Aug 01, 2005He calls himself "the magnetic boogeyman," and anyone in the electric Harbourfront crowd would have been hard-pressed to find a more fitting description for polymath entertainer Mos Def. His "pier party" by the lake had all the makings of a cranky evening - steep ticket prices, a lukewarm opener in Medina Green and an endless wait before Mighty Mos hit the stage - but as a showman of the highest calibre and con-artist of unwavering charm, Mos knew exactly what buttons to push. All of Mos's various incarnations came out to play - Blackstar Mos, Black on Both Sides Mos, Black Jack Johnson Mos, actor, musician, singer, rapper, visionary, cocky bastard and lover Mos. Even with the criticism of a SUV ad campaign nipping at his heels, a poorly received record and the exhaustion of a gruelling movie-making schedule, Mos was still doper and more wildly loved than almost any other performer currently at the top of their game. Dressed in casual cotton layers, a hoodie's shadow obscuring his face, he waltzed slowly into view and took an unassuming seat behind an electric piano. All it took was one mumbled word on the mic and the crowd jumped at once to its feet, eyes locked, jaws dropped and booties tingling in anticipation of the jams to come. His incredible presence proved him to be magnetic, but it was his air of coy, almost coquettish teasing that painted Mos as a boogieman. One by one the layers began to come off. "The Panties" was downright naughty, with Mos twisting and swaying, turning his back modestly to the crowd and slowly pulling a bandana over his head in a mock striptease. "Ms. Fat Booty" was binoculars, playing out like every Mos fan had always hoped it would live, and Mos wailed on songs from The New Danger, shutting up any lingering doubts that he couldn't rock out. Every moment was magic, every song a knockout. Mos had his way with the crowd - a demanding but attentive lover - and the delicious caress to follow the climax was "Umi Says," echoing across the lake and under stars that beamed down like the closing credits of a movie.