In 2009, I saw Maxwell at the O2 Academy in Brixton, while overseas for work. I sat next to a man named,Sam, and when he and I were talking (i.e. before Maxwell took the stage) the subject of D'Angelo came up. Sam asked, "Where was D'Angelo? What has/had he been doing?" Well, numerous articles have been written on the subject of D'Angelo, and last night it was time to stop reading and listening to stories... It was time to watch the man perform, so I ventured to Philadelphia.
With his new solo material, since 2000, D'Angelo entered The Mann amphitheater from the seats and walked to the stage to rock it. At times, his sound was very "James Brown-ish". D'Angelo looked as though he was enjoying his time in the spotlight during what I believe to be the first stop of the Liberation Tour with Mary J. Blige.
From what I could tell, from talking to the people around me, I was in the minority. I was there to see D'Angelo. They were there to see Mary. Don't get me wrong. I like Mary, but I've seen her a bunch of times, so I wasn't as excited about seeing he as I was more curious as to what D'Angelo looked and sounded like.
He was smiling and looked fitter than the previous bloated pictures, I'd seen published years ago. Ladies, I'll be honest with you. I didn't see a "How Does it Feel" D'Angelo on stage, but I suspect that if he keeps on track and focused, he'll get there.
As I was watching the man perform, I couldn't help but think that I wanted the old D'Angelo. I would've been more than happy to hear the "Brown Sugar" album, or at least "Alright" in the set list. He sang, "Cruisin" and it was smoooooooth. Yes, I threw in some extra "o's". It was that good.
I admit, I think I'm getting old. I'm not a huge fan of previous material being rearranged or maybe a little over-produced. At times, his hour on stage reminded me of Prince at 3121. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you better ask somebody (i.e. or at least Google it). D'Angelo's set was funky, but I wanted smooth.
During one of his numbers, the woman behind me said, "D'Angelo's one of those guys where you have to have to close your eyes to hear him." Wow. That's a statement. D'Angelo's voice would've been sufficient but let's here it for job creation... He had his background singers in tow, and at times I think they detracted from his "shine".
As for me, I wish I could've been brave enough to close my eyes and groove ~ but I'll admit that I was too afraid that if I blinked, he'd be gone, and I'd have to wait more than a decade for the chance to see him again.
D'Angelo is back. As a music lover and a fan of his talent, I hope he stays.
My original post about the Maxwell show can be found here
. Originally, I thought this piece would be the "brother" (i.e. not sister, since these are men) blog to the piece I wrote in 2009. The more I think about it, the comparison isn't fair at this time. With as much time "off' as D'Angelo has taken, I think I'll save the in-depth analysis until I see and hear more. As for hearing more, I'll do it again next weekend at Jay-Z's "Made in America" festival.