House of Blues
March 9, 2009
Better than: Catching up on the TV shows backlogged on my DVR.
As someone who admittedly knows very little about Solange's singing career, I just have to say: The girl gives it her all. Her black-suited, shaggy-haired band played a particularly funky rendition of the theme to "Shaft" as Sol-Angel and her Hadley St. Dreams showed off their soul-sista dresses and Motown-era choreography. The Queens were out in full effect, too, some of them following Solange's lead, move for move.
But the music drowned out all but Solange's hooks a lot of times; she couldn't even hear herself at one point, so she pulled her monitor out, put her fingers over her ears and kept singing. Gotta appreciate someone who won't let technology stop their show.
And there were plenty of opportunities throughout her set for her to get in some real hard bouncing and hair swinging, embracing her inner Tina Turner. She closed her set with "I Decided," and stepped into the modest-sized crowd to dance with and hug the audience members at the foot of the stage.
But as soon as Estelle's band readied itself onstage, it was obvious that the flavor would be a departure from the funk/rock/soul of Solange's peeps. And when Estelle appeared, she launched into "Just A Touch", looking far less done up than Solange. But, then again, she also revealed that she was fighting "the flu from hell".
Surprisingly, her vocal quality wasn't the least bit sacrificed. And the crowd on the floor thickened significantly as she took the audience on a journey that led to the creation of her album, Shine. Her raspy voice mixed with her London lilt was reminiscent, a bit, of Slick Rick at times, but her rapid-fire rhyming on her album's title track (along with the Carribbean-infused melodies of
"Substitute Lover" "No Substitute Love") also recalled Lauryn Hill.
But the highlight of the show came during Estelles performance of
"Young Love" "Come Over", when she invited several girls and one super-Queen onto the stage to dance with her and her band. Of course, the argyle sweater-vest wearing Queen totally stole the show. Even the headliner needed to step back and give him his space to shine.
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Perhaps dating herself, she lined everyone up to do the Bogol (guns up!), truly connecting with the long-time dancehall fans in the audience.
Personal bias: Estelle's "American Boy" is my ringtone.
Random note: Estelle called out the people in the balcony, one by one, who were still sitting and made them stand up.
By the way: I'm absolutely certain Solange's bass player winked at me