So I apologize for taking almost a week to get around to sharing this, but last Wednesday I was able to catch a show at the House of Blues in Boston that was PHENOMENAL. First off, I hadn't been to the HOB since it was in its original rinky-dink location over in Cambridge. Since then, it moved to Lansdowne Street right next to the Green Monster (Fenway Park, for those of you scratching your head) and the new spot is HUGE. Grabbed some dinner beforehand (a cajun chicken sandwich named "The Elwood," yes, after Elwood Blues) along with some beers ($6.50 for a pint of Guinness - a little steep and my only complaint about the evening).
The first act up for the night was Anjulie, a singer who I wrote about a few months ago back here. her self-titled debut came out this year, and she was obviously trying to get it out to a wider audience with this opening opportunity. She wasn't on stage long, only 5 or 6 songs or so, but while she was up there she was going at 110%. The crowd hadn't built to critical mass this early in the night, but she was trying her best to get them energized. The best song in her set was probably the first track I had heard her from her, Boom, way back one year ago. Check it out here if you missed it:
Next up was a group I caught live earlier this year at the Royal Family Get Down!, which they actually hosted. Soulive didn't disappoint this time around, either, laying down a gritty heater of a set of funk and soul that was thick enough to cut with a knife. About half way through, vocalist Nigel Hall joined the group, as he often does, to take things up a notch. Highlight of their set: moving from their cover of Curtis Mayfield's Move On Up into Maze's Joy & Pain (the song that Rob Base sampled for his song of the same name) and back into Mayfield. It was insane. Almost as good was the James Brown medley that they wrapped things up with.
To wrap up the evening, the man of the hour appeared, Raphael Saadiq. To say I was excited to see him would be an understatement. For those of you not familair with Saadiq, he started his musical career as lead singer for Tony! Toni! Toné!. When the group disbanded in 1996, he set out on his own, working as a session player, collaborator, and producer on a few different projects before releasing his first solo album, Instant Vintage, in 2002. Late last year he released his third solo album, probably the best received of his albums, The Way I See It.
Saadiq opened up his appearance with the stage dark and him singing the Star Spangled Banner in Marvin Gaye mode. As the song ended, the lights switched on, and he took center stage dressed to the nines and resplendent in a bright red tux. He never looked back from there. Along with two back-up dancers (who doubled as vocalists at various points in the evening), Saadiq burned up the stage, always moving with plenty of funk in his step. A lot of his material came from his latest album, with the beginning of the set sitting squarely in the 60's, and progressively feeling more modern as the evening progressed (with him even changing from his retro red tux to a more timeless black number).
Even with the $6.50 Guinness', the night was one tight package of musical goodness. Unfortunately, they're done for this tour, but look for them in 2010.