Live - Jamie Lidell @ Bimbo's | SF




Hey guys – I totally got lucky two nights ago. It was smooth, beautiful, sensual; I didn't know what to anticipate, and I ended up being taken on a whirlwind of unexpected twists and valleys with a smile on my face the whole time…

Jamie Lidell: who are you in your pressed gray suit with Rivers Cuomo glasses, doing the hip boy soul bop dance routine and sassing out on stage with that voice of yours? Seriously?

Lidell came at a good time for me. Last week, I found out a classmate of mine died; we were never close, but both being art majors, I would always see him in the labs at school, working on his gorgeous trademark large-format poster photographs. We were in a couple of art shows last year, and got supremely drunk at my house after a prestigious show at a fine arts museum we both exhibited at. The night of Lidell's show, friends and I popped in at a memorial ride for our fallen peer. A car at a notorious San Francisco intersection known for fatalities had hit him. After we paid our respects, we walked to a nearby dive bar to have chocolate martinis and beers to celebrate a guy we wish could be there to toast with us.

It's pretty safe to say I was distracted coming into Bimbo's Wednesday night for the show. With death so heavy on my mind for the past week, I had called everyone in my phone book to say how much I loved them, making sure everything was right with people I cared about because I didn't know when I was going to see them next. Standing on the ballroom floor of Bimbo's, it seemed so trivial to be at a show when someone I knew was now in the ground, and I never got to say goodbye.

Maybe that's why at last minute I decided to swing into the Lidell show; maybe I just needed to do things I don't usually do because I just can and should. It's the whole "life is short" adage, right? I generally never buy tickets to bands I know nothing about, or don't own albums of, or have not made previous intentions in my planner for. And I definitely don't invite two friends who rely on my word that a show is gonna be good to also come with, wishing on a thread that the outcome is going to promise fantastic. But hey! Life's a party, yeah?

It's exactly how I got lucky Wednesday. Lidell was in town to support Jim, a sanguine album full of sunny soul-inspired pops, spliced with a dash of modernism and wit, as well as big band throwbacks of classic 60s funk, swing, and downtempo grooves. The guy comes out on stage in an impeccable gray number compressed to perfection, flashing a grin to the audience before launching into a dance fit that included gigantic jolts of energy being balled up and throw into the audience as well as head-bashing sessions that almost caused his trademark specs to fly off his face. The backing band only fueled this playful sentiment: we had the trademark drummer in aviators and sweet sideburns; a guitarist with makeup reminiscent of this of Bjork; a sax guy armed with a partial vicoder who was adorned in a gold robe and (we speculated) no underwear; and the keys player, who was freakishly normal in comparison to the rest of the cast. Poor guy.

We were taken on a wave of the best-of best-of's merged with contemporary pop music for the hour and half Lidell graced the stage. A little Stevie, Otis, and Al Green made appearances, yes; the feature that makes him so endearing though is his earnest approach and precipitous adoration of the music he makes. Midway through, we're treated to an electronic jam session devoid of any audible lyrics, Lidell positioning himself behind a motherboard crowded with knobs and sliding keys. Later, we behold a deep croon session like "Game For Fools," appropriate for both a bedtime romp and a romantic temptation attempt, and pop splendor on pitch-perfect and soul "Another Day," part of me wondering if I stumbled into a Southern gospel Sunday. It's not a secret the Berlin-based musician knows how to belt it out, but it's in the way he projects and transforms his voice to adhere to the mood he is embarking on that makes the experience truly remarkable.

Please know this: it's not now that I associate Lidell's music with death, because of my life that happened pre-show; it's so much that the stunning celebration of life in general that Lidell's music encompasses is so bright and original, it's hard not to smile. It seems to swathe anyone with ears, and for that, I can't be any more happier.

Dear Kirk: I think you and Jamie would have gotten along quite well. Rest in peace and love, darling.

Jamie Lidell

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Live - Jamie Lidell @ Bimbo's | SF