When reviewing Erykah Badu words seem irrelevant. It is like taking a journey on a spaceship and landing on a bright horizon of sheer creativity, funk and soul. I saw Erykah Badu at Massey Hall yesterday with the love of my life, Mr.Dacey and all I can say is that I would not rather see Badu with anyone else. Shaun and I grew up on Badu. I remember how in high school “Baduism” was the soundtrack of our desire to potentially decipher the world that we live in through her magical and intelligent communications. This was the third time I have seen Badu and possibly my favourite because of the fantastic acoustics and intimacy of the crowd. You felt like you were her student and she was your “Master/Teacher.”
I suppose to me, EB has always been like a mythical goddess of la musica. Bigger than hip hop.
She makes you feel damn good about being human and struggling and loving, that is Badu’s talent. Her ability to communicate openly her personal story with such vigor to the attention of creatively painting feelings, merged with an echo of sounds and chanting resignation. Live she is flawless and so moving, you can early see that you are not seeing a singer alone, you are seeing an artist install works of her experiences. Yesterday did not disappoint.
Badu started off with “Amerkayn Promise,” the title track from her new album and in “My People” she urges her people to hold on. The idea of America as a seed of corruption is not necessarily a new topic of investigation is any avenue of art. But Badu does it better. How? She merges a neo-soul, R& B and synchronizing sounds with a lovely classical voice. She reminds us that it is a “beautiful world that [we’re] searching for.”
Her stage was simple. No screens, just some colourful lights to illuminate her stage and show the beams of various colours that exude from her creativity. She had four sassy black lady back-up singers (which gave the feel of a old school Supremes set-up) and a bassist, guitarist, drummers x 2, synchronizer on her side table, a keyboardist and a DJ. On her table which is a familiar Badu set-up to a frequent fan , a lap top on it (so she could play songs she enjoyed to set-up some of her performances), a thermos with a mysterious liquid, a tambourine and a small set of maracas. She appeared simple; a stylish black dress that looked very classic flapper with ridges of circular rings around her petite figure, a black head piece that was in-between a helmet and a church hat. Badu is tiny but her presence is unmistakable large. Naturally I got excited and when she pulled her classical move of removing her head wear and showing her hair net, Badu stripped per say. "Next time we leave this damn hat at home, "she remarked towards the end of the show with a smile on her face. Her boots were sexy tall and black to balance her small, warm and gentle energy.
Badu threw out some crowd pleasers through her classics “Otherside of the Game,” “On & On,” “Tyrone,” “Bag lady, “…& On,” “Green Eyes, and “Danger.” You could easily identify the devotee Badu fans like me and the Dace, who knew the words to each of her pieces while others seemed to know the old better then the new. Either way the crowd was vastly eclectic, full of different faces, ages and races. It seemed to affirm that music is truly a universal language beyond classification.
Badu is a force to be reckoned with, whether or not you appreciate her arrangements is up to you. But there ain’t no mistaking that she will take you higher, elevate your soul and rejuvenate your faith in love, life and watering the seeds of our growth. Her lyrics are strongly communicated from the water of her womb and her Queendom is apparent. She speaks through the perspective of a modern ethnic woman with the power to remind us all of the simplicity of good vs. evil, pain vs. evil, stagnancy vs. growth.
I am a faithful devotee to Baduism, always. Reminded of “Me”.
"Thank you for allowing me to share my creativity," she said at the end of the show. No, thank you. You are too damn cool.