From the first second to the last downbeat, the band played nonstop. There were no pauses, there was no break. Raphael Saadiq was flying a fully packed time machine to the ’60s—and luckily for us, the captain assured us it was going to be a smooth ride.
But before talking about Saadiq, I have to set the mood for where he transported the crowd to the gilded era of Motown and Stax at NYC’s cavernous but packed Terminal 5 last Friday. His band, seven musicians dressed in crisp black suits complete with slick black ties, backed his equally dapper self as he took us through New Orleans, Oakland and New York, mastering the classic soul sound, yet always with a distinctively original flavor. Despite Raphael Saadiq being the star of the show, he also spotlighted his bandmates, fully cognizant of their talent. Perhaps the most surprising part of the night was about two hours into the show when Charles, the formerly silent keyboard player, was prodded by Saadiq to sing a few notes. Starting off modestly, with Saadiq comically donning a huge “Charles” sign behind him for support, Charles unleashed into an ascending scat that brought our plane up to maximum altitude. The initially timid Charles couldn’t be stopped once he got a taste of the audience, continuing throughout the rest of the show. Raphael said he only plays with people who are better than him and this, combined with surprise appearances by Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Mohammed from A Tribe Called Quest, was proof he wasn’t kidding. Even Raphael grabbed a turn on bass, musicianship from a leader with a smart ability to foster a talented group of musicians.
Fortunately, it seems the concert represented a microcosm of how Saadiq runs his life. Right after he stops touring in January, Saadiq plans on going back to the studio to finish his next album. If you aren’t already counting down the days on this one, you crazy. —Eric N. Sandler
More pictures after the jump.