E. Badu & The Roots = Best. Concert. Ever

Man. Ten minutes into Erykah Badu’s set at Radio City Music Hall (part of the New Amerykah/Vortex tour 2008 A.D.) last Friday, I started to worry I wouldn’t be able to find the words to describe just how amazing the show was….

But before I was worried, I was mad. The Roots are hip-hop, and they did a good, tight, 40-minute opening set that started promptly at 8pm (while I was downstairs in the bathroom, of course). But, WTF, I quickly realized it was the exact same set they did at the Apollo earlier this year (fine here as an opening act, sucky as a solo show) that pissed me off with its insane brevity. They didn’t even change it up a little, doing “You Got Me” with guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas singing (am I the only one who think he kinda looks like Miles Davis?), which was weird since Erykah was backstage. Then there was the 50-minute break before Miss Badu came out, which prompted my husband to speculate that she wasn’t yet there and me to threaten to tear shit up if she didn’t sing for two whole hours.

But as pissed as I was, the wait was totally worth it when she hit the stage at 9:30 on the dot. She came out fly, in a black tiered minidress and an old-lady church hat. Every single interview she did to promote New Amerykah, Part One: 4th World War mentioned the Analog Girl in a Digital World’s newfound love of using her computer to compose, but she took it to another level when she dragged her Mac on stage to pick the tracks the band played and give us quick old school selections between items on the set list.

The first three songs were the latest CD in order; performing “Amerykahn Promise,” “The Healer” and “Just Me” before jumping around her repertoire. Then she moved on to “Twinkle:” “They don’t know their language/They don’t know their God/They take what they’re given/Even when it feels odd.” It was then that I found the exact words to describe this show: It was like church. You know how sometimes it’s like the pastor knew exactly what you needed to hear, like he was preaching for you? That’s how I felt this entire show, trying not to cry because I felt just that blessed.

Her voice was beautiful and powerful as ever, and I was constantly amazed by her control over both it and her band (though I had been hoping The Roots would back her). Recordings don’t quite do her justice. There were plenty of moments where she might have been perceived as weird by those who don’t understand, like when she put a djembe drum on top of her head (it was a representation of Isis, the Egyptian goddess of creation) and did an interpretive dance to “Green Eyes” that made excellent use of two red exercise balls that represented her and her former flame (you had to see it—anybody got a video from the concert?).

She whipped off the hat during “Orange Moon,” let a guy come up and propose to his girl before the last song, sang all of “Annie (Don’t Wear No Panties)” (!) with a hilarious dance break and generally rocked it until a quarter ‘til midnight. I’ve seen a lot of shows, but I think this is my favorite of all time. Seriously.

Did you go? Love it? Hate it? What was your favorite part? Tell Me!


Jbakes & I don’t want to have all the fun, so our Parlour columnists will weigh in from time to time to share their concert, movie and general culture experiences. This has been your visit to Baduism, Politrix style. Signing off- Steely D

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