Concert Review: Erykah Badu takes Toronto

Share this article

    Erykah Badu Concert at Koolhaus, Toronto, Ontario
    Tuesday March 5th, 2013
    By Ann Marie Collymore

    Erykah Badu Concert at Koolhaus, Toronto, Ontario
    Tuesday March 5th, 2013
    By Ann Marie Collymore

    On a very chilly and downright cold winter night, fans of @fatbellybella aka Erykah Badu, came out in droves to hear her do what she does, the only way she knows how. To have the vast space of the Koolhaus venue packed almost to capacity is a feat in itself; a feat that Ms. Badu conquered with ease. Pre-concert flyers indicated that Erykah would be performing her outstanding debut album, Baduizm, and her eager fans found and secured their position in Koolhaus, patiently waiting for Erykah to hit the stage and bring that seminal album to life. Imagine everyone’s surprise when she started signing “Penitentiary Philosophy.” From the left and right you heard remarks questioning, “Isn’t this supposed to be Baduizm?” - leaving concert patrons a tad disorientated. However, an Erykah Badu fan must always be ready to roll with the punches. As we know, Erykah never goes with the status quo and it so happens that it was Mama’s Gun night. Everyone was willing and ready to go along with the change of events, and therefore the show went on.

    The crowd had been greeted earlier in the evening by a mediocre showing from DJ A1 of the Cannabinoids. A DJ’s pre-show set should be the pre-curser to what’s in store for the night. He’s tagged as the hype man on turntables if you will. His song choices were satisfactory, however, the placement and actual mixes of the tracks through out his very predictable set left something to be desired.

    Beginning with “Penitentiary Philosophy,” Ms. Badu effortlessly moved into her set. She breathed a whole new life into the Mama’s Gun album, track after track. When Erykah reached “…& On,” she decided to take a break to reveal, “I gotta do the sh** right.”  It would be safe to say that was the ultimate shift in the evening where the ante and bar were raised. Erykah and her band took us through a slow motion trip on “Kiss Me On My Neck” and she showed off her versatile scatting abilities. Tugging at her shirt and skirt while swinging to and fro like a self-conscious little girl, she gave “A.D. 2000” a state of mind of protection and understanding, accompanied by a syncopated rhythm that was layered and built carefully by Badu and her band.

    The highlight of the night was the organic performance of “Orange Moon.” It had a level of vulnerability about it. You were able to enjoy the sweetness and beauty of the song, and Erykah’s vocals left a delicate mark on every note and lyric. She took her time with it and it was phenomenal. It was as though she was performing a one man Broadway show. It was emotional, profound, and noteworthy.

    While Erykah’s performance of Mama’s Gun was nothing short of brilliant,but the treats didn’t just stop there. We were also privy to watching Erykah play with an 808 and lead into the intro to “Love Of My Life.” Throwing a touch of Worldwide Underground and Baduizm in the mix, we were able to indulge in “Bump It” with a heavy ass bass line, “The Other Side of the Game” which consisted of a mean and funky unforgettable breakdown, and finally an intense and engaging performance of “Danger.”

    Ms. Badu’s voice had a slight rasp, cluing us in to her tiresome tour and the stress on her vocals. Nonetheless, she was the epitome of cool all throughout the show and sounded incredible. Her background singers Keisha Jackson (Millie Jackson’s daughter) and YouTube phenom Durand Bernarr, hung on to every word and melody in time and without flaw. As Erykah shed pieces of her clothing and jewelry through the night – jacket, cardigan, shoes, necklace, and ring, it was as though she was at home getting ready to settle in, get comfortable and let it all out. And that she did. Before she left the stage, she stated, “This is my therapy.” Erykah, your music and presence continue to be ours. 

     

    .

     
    Featured Album - ASCENDANT - Illuminate: Yellow
    Choice Cut - Fred Reed - "Tug Of War"