Review: Erykah Badu and The Roots – The Vortex Tour

May 9, 2008Radio City Music HallNew York, New YorkHave you ever wondered what a life changing musical experience feels like? It feels like an extended guitar solo by Captain Kirk of The Roots. It feels like a sold out crowd at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, all bobbing their heads to the same beat. It’s powerful, and from Erykah Badu, you really expect nothing less.Saying that The Roots opened the show during their 40-minute set is an understatement. They set it off bringing unbalanced but impeccable energy. Black Thought and company streamed through newer material “Criminal” which the dedicated to Sean Bell, and “Star/Pointro.” Not bringing Erykah out for her chorus feature on “You Got Me” was suspect, but perhaps she was preparing for her entry backstage.Unlike previous performances, new members Captain Kirk, Tuba Gooding, Jr. and Fredrick Douglass brought out most of the energy; while Black Thought, ?uestlove and Kamal manned their stations. Their original animated style seems to be taking a backseat while the “newbies” have a ball.After a 45-minute intermission that left the crowd more than ready for the main event, Ms. Badu hit the stage in total darkness. Wearing a puffy black dress resembling a plastic bag, six-inch heels, and a small hat, Erykah introduced us to her Baduisms then and now. With every song played, Badu bent over and hit the buttons on her drum machine as if searching through her music library. Traveling through all four albums, each song got a crazy crowd reaction. Since Erykah Badu’s music is the kind that makes you remember where you were when you first heard each song, listening to it was deeper than just hearing it.“Soldier” and “The Healer” were among those performed from New Amerykah Part One, but classic Badu is what the crowd was waiting for. It’s hard to say which songs off her previous albums were most loved, because each one was met with total crowd participation. She then hit with a sped up version of “On and On” and “Apple Tree,” but got back to a slower melody on “Orange Moon” and “Other Side of The Game.” Halfway through the concert Badu, thanked the audience and left the stage. We were all hoping that it wasn’t over, and luckily it wasn’t. After a wardrobe change into black stretch pants and a long sleeve shirt, she reappeared minus her back-up singers but plus a few props. Singing “Green Eyes” she played out the lyrics of the song using two large red beach balls while pieces of blue and green fabric blew in the background. The song lasted well into its 14-minute time frame allotted on the Mama’s Gun, album and the audience could not have been happier.Badu also sang “Tyrone” and went into the audience putting the mic into unsuspecting faces of fans for an impromptu sing-along session. To cap it all off, a man proposed to his girlfriend on stage closing the show before Badu thanked us for allowing her to show off her creativity. It was our pleasure to do so.

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