Heineken's Red Star Soul (Concert)

Artist: Concert ReviewTitle: Heineken's Red Star Soul (Concert)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana

Who would have thought a Dutch brewery company could create one of the finest soul concerts of the year? We're talking City High's Ryan Toby and Claudette Ortiz, Raheem DeVaughn, and Raphael Saadiq. On October 2nd, Heineken blessed NYC with its stop on the Red Star Soul concert series-not an ear drum bashing type event, but an occasion of the more mellow blend. Clubgoers all shades of chocolate and vanilla flocked to the Nokia Theatre in NYC’s Times Square to see both the marvelous soul acts of today as well as a couple of spry up-and-comers to keep on the radar.

With the venue filled, girls in the afros were electric sliding, the DJ (D-Nice) was spinning Al Green hits, and bottles of Heineken were on the house for the entire night. Many of the acts who blessed the audience are responsible for keeping the heartbeat of R&B music healthily pumping. Ryan Toby graced the stage with his fair wife Claudette Ortiz, both of whom are still floating off their City High days. As a matter of fact, just look at the liner notes of your favorite R&B and a gentleman’s bet says Ryan Toby's named is somewhere scribbled in the mix. Same with Raphael Saadiq, who is a vocal/guitar factory of hits. He gets on stage and the audience is thinking, "Why is he singing all these covers like Angie Stone's "Brother" and D'angelo's "How Does It Feel?" until someone who knows better whispers that those are all hits that he either wrote or produced.

The emerald moment of the concert, however, went to the forty minute set of psychedelic soul performed by Raheem DeVaughn. Boyfriends; good advice would be to keep your girlfriends away from the first five rows of a Raheem DeVaughn set. This guy was churning out hits from his debut The Love Experience, and made the fans more than moist for his upcoming sophomore release Love Behind the Melodies. My man was laying flat on the stage invoking Marvin Gaye’s "Sexual Healing." He even had a couple of stagehands anoint him with a royal robe and crown.

The concert got a little restless at times, but that’s only because they were too many acts on the bill. True, they were rising stars like R&B group Midwest City whose nouveau interpretation of four part harmony warmed the crowd. But other than that, the lineup was more of showcase, and at times lacked the continuity of a true concert.

Still, the Red Star Soul series is a very pleasant reminder that a live band is one of the most delicious ingredients of a great show. Pair live instrumentation with a slew of crooners who can even make 6' 4" thugs tingle inside, and you got a quite a successful shindig. The bad news is that you missed a dope concert. The good news is that the tour hasn’t even reached its anchor, so be sure to flag it down in the next city.