Looking over my ticket stubs from last year, it’s amazing how many shows I attended! I honestly forgot about one concert (luckily the notes I took reminded me).
Here’s a recap of the shows I attended in 2011.
Ledisi – Jan 23, 2011, Yoshi’s Oakland
In referencing my notes from this show, I wrote, “Watching Ledisi perform is like watching her make love to the mic.” There’s something sensual about watching Ledisi perform. She invites you into her world with the sway of her hips, the twinkle in her eyes and the sassiness of her voice.
Ledisi’s vocals have a richness and depth that not only holds your attention, and captivates you at the same time. You can’t help but get caught up at a Ledisi show.
After each song performance, you were left to ponder the message of her music. Highlights included Joy (Ledisi stated this song almost didn’t make it onto Lost & Found), Knockin’ (she repeated the first verse so the audience could really understand the song’s meaning) and Alright (according to Ledisi, she wrote this at the lowest point of her career).
At the show’s end, Ledisi offered tidbits of wisdom, including, “Leap out on faith. Fear stops everything. When you open the door of fear, there’s a blessing on the other side,” and “Be careful of who and what you allow in your personal circle, because not everyone deserves your presence. Love them from afar. Keep it movin’. Everybody can’t go where you’re going.”
The Floacist – Feb. 26, 2011, 330 Ritch, San Francisco
It still pains me that Floetry is no longer together. There are times when I wish whatever separated the duo could be resolved so they could reunite for at least one more album.
In the meantime, both The Floacist (Natalie Stewart) and Songstress (Marsha Ambrosius) have gone on to release solo projects, and Floetic Soul, the Floacist’s individual effort, was one of the best albums released in 2010 (although she didn’t have the benefit of great hype and publicity). I jumped at the opportunity to see her live in 2011.
The energy The Floacist exuded during her performance went well beyond the confines of the small venue’s walls. While it was February in San Francisco, her attire was more suited for Los Angeles in June. While she may not have been dressed appropriately for the weather, her personality showed she wasn’t bothered by the rain, cold and ever-present San Francisco fog. With close-cropped hair, she came to “perform for the seen and unseen.” And what a performance it was.
Not used to hearing The Floacist sing, I was pleasantly surprised that her vocals are actually really good. Beginning with Breathe – which is the first song on her album (and, as I often say when I absolutely love a song, ”it’s my cut”), you could tell there have been moments where she’s held on to the past longer than necessary.
But she’s breathing now.
The rest of the set included Forever, What R U Looking 4? and I Need You, which turned into a chant when she repeated the chorus several times:“Be there when I need you/even if you cannot come when I call you/simply means that I can handle this without you/and know that next I see you/it will be just when I need you.”
Chrisette Michele – April 17, 2011, Yoshi’s Oakland
Encouraged to be true to herself through singer Erykah Badu’s influence, Chrisette Michele opened her heart and soul during her well-attended performance. A gifted song writer, Chrisette peppered her set with background stories on her songs, the meaning behind If I Had My Way, which is about abstinence, not sex, traveling 65 miles to Brooklyn, NY to attend church when she was younger, pleasing her pastor and her admiration for Michael Jackson.
Some songs were her “angry” moments (Goodbye Game and Blame It), but she had some sweet ones as well (Golden and All I WAnt Is You). If you are in the Oakland, CA, area, catch her at the Paramount Theatre on March 17. Ticket price range: $23-$6
Vivian Green & Eric Roberson – May 26, 2011, Yoshi’s Oakland
Vivian Green hit my radar when she was a backup singer for Jill Scott. Since 2002, she’s released three albums – A Love Story, Vivian and Beautiful.
Vivian is one of those artists that is a talented vocalist, but somehow, she hasn’t attained broad recognition. It’s such a shame because she can easily compete with Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and Ledisi.
I’m a newcomer to Eric Roberson’s music, so I went into this show not really knowing his music or what to expect.
I left a new fan.
This show started with the flip of a coin to decide which artist would perform first. Eric won and because I wasn’t familiar with the songs, it enabled me to really listen to his lyrics – and I was impressed with what I heard.
According to Eric, he attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., and discovered gogo music (he originally hails from New Jersey). While there, he would go to McDonald’s and sing his order to “get the ladies.” I can only imagine how many numbers he received.
Vivian returned looking fabulous with her short hair, big gold earrings and a black one-piece jumpsuit. Going back to her debut album, A Love Story, she sang a jazzed up version of Addicted, and ended with Emotional Rollercoaster.
Trading the stage with Vivian, Eric returned with a song about dealing with someone perhaps he shouldn’t have been with.
Having changed clothes, Vivian returned with a funked up version of Wish We Could Go Back, from her Vivian album. She ventured into the audience during Gotta Go, Gotta Leave, and allowed some members to showcase their singing ability.
During Eric’s next set, he asked for audience participation in order to create a song with words provided by the crowd. Sexual chocolate, ambidextrous, whistle, expeditiously, difficult and design turned into a song about a difficult girl.
Vivian concluded the show with another outfit change and renditions of other artist’s songs. When she sang the first notes of Whitney Houston’s Saving All My Love, my mouth dropped open in amazement because she sounded just as good as Whitney did before the “crack is whack” period of her life.
Her performance of Toni Braxton’s Breathe Again, was stellar as well. Toni should be looking over her shoulder because Vivian’s version was better than the one I heard Toni perform in Las Vegas a few years ago.
|Doug E. Fresh|
|DJ Jazzy Jeff|
Jill Scott’s Block Party Feat. DJ Jazzy Jeff, Doug E. Fresh, Mint Condition and Anthony Hamilton, Aug. 12, 2011 Sleep Train Pavilion, Concord
The words “Block Party” conjures up images of people gathering in the street, music blaring from the speakers spun by an amateur DJ who set up in the middle of the block so the neighborhood could jam until the wee hours of the morning.
That’s an apt description for Jill Scott’s Block Party. Instead of partying in the middle of the street, however, we jammed in our seats and moved to the aisles while DJ Jazzy Jeff impressed us with his skills on the turntables; Doug E. Fresh taught us how to Dougie three different ways (on the basketball court, in the gym and on the golf course) and kept the party hype all night; Anthony Hamilton took us back to church with his deep, soulful voice, and Mint Condition, who started the party, tore the non-existent roof off and had us swinging!
When it was the Queen’s turn, she brought the party to new heights. Jill Scott, who is one of my top five favorite artists of all-time, stepped on stage wearing all black with her braided hair pinned up. She took the mic and proceeded to demonstrate how she’s managed to still be around 11 years after her debut release Who is Jill Scott Words and Sounds Vol. 1.
Having never produced a live performance that didn’t exceed my expectations, her set started with Shame, one of my favorite songs from her latest release, The Light of the Sun. The “A Group,” the female background singers from Shame was replaced with the “Pipes,” three male background singers who provided their own form of entertainment with their dance moves.
|Anthony Hamilton and Jill Scott
perform their hit So In Love
Other show highlights: Jill proclaiming hip and soul music are not dead; Doug E. Fresh joining her on stage for their rendition of La Di Da Di (with Jill spitting MC Ricky D, aka Slick Rick’s verse) and All Cried Out Redux; Anthony Hamilton and Jill were sizzling hot while performing So In Love. The chemistry they have on stage is undeniable pure and sweet.
I always love the way she sings A Long Walk (my all-time favorite song by her) and Crown Royal; for He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat), it was just her voice sans the Pipes, while Le BOOM Vent Suite touched a special place in my soul that night. I loved the way she walked away from the mike, shrugging shoulders when she sang, “and if that hurts you/well then it hurts you.”
Out of all the shows I attended this year, this definitely ranks in the top five.
Vail Soul Music Festival Feat. Anthony David, Loose Ends,
Lalah Hathaway, Ledisi Vail, CO Aug. 19-20, 2011
While I was reared in the state where the motto of the capitol city is the “Mile High City,” I wasn’t quite prepared for the high altitude of Vail, CO. Apparently neither was Lalah Hathaway, who stopped several times during her set to catch her breath.
She was still able to pull off a decent performance, belting out Breathe, Small of My Back, Summertime and Forever, For Always, For Love.
The high altitude didn’t seem to bother Ledisi, however. Her high energy never waned as she started with Bravo (which, incidentally I requested she perform on her facebook page), rolled on with Higher Than This and continued with Knockin’.
With her red locks swinging, Ledisi imparted her words of wisdom on the audience before finishing with Alright.
Anthony David, whose music I’m not that familiar with, serenaded a woman from the audience with Let Me In. Strumming his guitar and singing with passion, the crowd swayed to the beat of Words and 4evermore.
|My view from lower-level,
Sade Feat. John Legend, Aug. 27, 2011 Oracle Arena, Oakland
What more can I say about this concert other than what I said on Dec. 20? One thing I did leave out was the story of being moved to lower level seats.
Let me just say this, I’m spoiled when it comes to having good seats at a concert.
Usually, I’m able to get as close as possible because I’ve become the queen of securing pretty good concert tickets for my group. For this show, however, not a single person – including myself – was willing to shell out $200 to sit on the lower level. Thus, we ended up in upper level, or nose bleed seats.
And I was hating every moment of it. I really did try and enjoy John Legend, but I just kept thinking, “I want to be on the lower level.”
This is where things get interesting. Sometimes, when you speak (or in this case think) things, they very well may happen!
While waiting for Sade, we were hanging out near the concession stands, this man appeared from nowhere, asking if we wanted to move to the lower level! I couldn’t go back to my seat fast enough to grab my coat. Thus, we enjoyed Sade’s amazing performance on lower level seats that were smack dead in the middle!
An Evening with Jill Scott, Oct. 19, 2011 Prudential Hall, NJPac, Newark, NJ
This show differed greatly from the one I attended in August (no Doug E. Fresh, Anthony Hamilton or Mint Condition), but was still fabulous. Jill had to find her “new voice” because she was under the weather, but it still sounded good.
The highlight of this show for me was her performance of When I Wake Up. I was slightly disappointed when she didn’t sing Hear My Call at the Block Party concert, and I had a feeling she wasn’t going to sing it at NJPAC, but her singing “I gotta keep moving/but here I am lost all up inside my brain/can’t stop thinking, reminiscing/can’t stop, can’t let go/but when I wake up/and one day I will do it yeah/I’ll have let you go/and everything I went through was beautiful” erased all previous disappointment.
The best moment, though, hands down, was meeting Jill after the show. She was gracious and accommodated my request for an autograph on a photo I took with her years earlier. Thanks Jill1
Anthony Hamilton, Nov. 10, 2011, The Warfield, San Francisco
Anthony has a deep, soulful, take you back to church kind of voice. There also is a certain kind of sexiness when he moves across the stage.
With his background singers doing more than singing (they often came from behind the microphone stand to dance and amp the crowd up) Anthony started with So In Love. Sans Jill Scott, whom he collaborated with, Anthony sang both parts, alternating between deep and higher-pitched tones.
Showcasing many songs from his new album Back To Love (which was released in December), Anthony provided a good mix of songs from all four of his albums.
Lalah Hathaway, Dec. 2, 2011, Yoshi’s Oakland
After this show, I had a different perspective of her new album Where It All Begins because the live performance provided me with a deeper appreciation of the direction Lalah is headed with her music.
Erykah Badu and the Cannabinoids, Dec. 9, 2011, The Warfield, San Francisco
My all-time favorite artist’s performance left me a bit stumped at times, wondering where she was headed, but I stayed on the Erykah Badu/Cannabinoids ride because I knew that once I disembarked, I would walk away more educated and enlightened.
I’ve been a fan long enough to always expect the unexpected when it comes to Erykah. This may be why I love her so – she is her own person and appears not to give a damn what other people think.
Watch The Throne Feat. Jay Z and Kanye West, Dec. 13, 2011, HP Pavilion at San Jose
I could not have asked for a better concert to end 2011. While it may have been a better experience had I been seated on the floor in the third row.
I can’t deny that the energy of Jay Z and Kanye West filled the arena and kept everyone in a zone, throwing up diamonds and going H*A*M.