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There’s a sense of excitement in the air – great expectations! Clips from the Paris, Amsterdam and Stockholm gigs are on You tube settling the question of whether 'The Artist' has managed to lose the pounds that he gained and returned to his muscular self. A double spread in the Evening Standard and the Metro gives an indication of the level of anticipation from the music reviewers in the UK national press. Friends that did not experience the gig back in 2000 but clearly heard about it are excited, keen to ensure we meet, eat and take up a good position in Brixton Academy. Even outside the venue there are people interviewing people in the crowd and keen to give the fans an opportunity to say what they are expecting!

The artist in question is not Prince – though the influences and comparisons are evident. It is D’Angelo! Multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, performer and eye candy for many in the audience. There is a long wait after the support act and after almost an hour the band makes it way to the stage and we are into “Playa Playa” with D’Angelo off stage for the whole of the song. This is reminiscent of the 2000 gig but without the theatrical, moody element that set the tone for that gig.

The set includes new songs “The Charade” and “Sugar Daddy” as well as “The Root”, “Feel Like Making Love”, “Chicken Grease”. There is an inspired and interesting twist from a new song “Sexy Body” into a slower paced, intense and eclectic reading of “Shit, Damn, Motherfucker”. However, what starts out as inspired and interesting leaves me somewhat confused as D’Angelo leaves the stage for around ten minutes and there is a drum and bass duet and various guitar solos and I sense that the song has finished, only for D’Angelo to return and continue the same song. This seemed self indulgent and I was conscious of the woman behind me who said at this point to her friend “I’m getting bored”.

There is a medley section of songs with D’Angelo on Rhodes, which includes mere snippets of “Jonz in my Bonz”, “Me and Those Dreaming Eyes of Mine”, “One Mo’ Gin” and several others but they are mere snippets no longer than thirty seconds and I am not a fan of the medley! This section concluded with “Untitled – How Does It Feel” but unsurprisingly a shortened version.

The gig seemed disjointed, there were flashes of brilliance but several breaks gave the proceedings a sense of being unrehearsed. I found myself wishing that things would improve, but the monstrous interpretation of “Brown Sugar” (sorry, but I like the original version) as the encore signalled it was clearly time to go and by this point I was more intent on getting out first before the crowds and getting an early tube (train)!

So, there were flashes of brilliance. D’Angelo is without question multi-talented. I tried not to be swept away on the hype. I expected more than I got. I liked the new tracks. I hope the new CD surfaces sooner rather than later given the rumours that it is 97% ready! I think the satisfaction of a new CD could deliver a more cohesive and rehearsed set list.

About the Writer
Terry Joe is a London-based has led bands as a vocalist, releasing cds and regularly performing. His favourite artists include Anita Baker, Jill Scott, Al Green, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Ledisi, Nathan Haines, Me'shell NdegeOcello and many more.

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