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Friday, May 9, 2014

Live review: Ledisi, Robert Glasper Experiment at The Fillmore (5/8/2014)

Posted By on Fri, May 9, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Ledisi
The Fillmore
May 8, 2014

Take a night of Grammy-winning soul and tie it to one of the most under-rated voices in music today and you have one of the best shows touring the country in the past five years.

Ledisi's "The Truth" tour, featuring the Robert Glasper Experiment, found its way to The Fillmore on May 8, 2014, and did not disappoint. Glasper, a Grammy winner for his album Black Radio, fuses hip-hop, jazz, soul and progressive styles to reshape the musical landscape with original work, as well as reimagined covers of classic hits.

He started the night with the Sade classic "Cherish" and moved the crowd into a head nodding groove. He also delivered songs from the his Black Radio 2 album. "Let it Ride" (which is sung by Norah Jones on the album) and "Calls" (which is sung by Jill Scott on the album) were crowd pleasers, but his cover of Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" was the highlight.

Glasper's ability to capture the essence of a song and add a hip hop soulful twist is the definition of inspired talent. His sound on the album was true to form and perhaps even better live.

During the changing of the band you start seeing that The Fillmore is a chameleon of a venue - constantly changing, setting the mood and tone without physically changing its structure and set up.

After the sound is reset, the instruments are ready and the lights fade to black then back up to a deep purple, two dancers and the band take the stage as a video of Ledisi explaining her truth plays behind them. The video cuts and the Grammy-nominated voice that has been crushing the underground scene lights up the stage with energy and life.

Ledisi is from New Orleans and her opening reflected that as the dancers moved to the "Bouncing Back" instrumental being played by the band in second-line funeral fashion. It didn't take long for Ledisi to get into her set as she walked out in her first of five outfits.

Much like The Fillmore's ability to change mood and tone, Ledisi did the same as well. She carried the crowd through songs like "Higher than This" and "Like This" before performing the high-energy "Rock with You." The song's pop appeal gave Ledisi the chance to show off her chain-clad leather outfit and show fans that not only could she sing but she has moves, as well.

Ledisi and the dancers controlled the stage with carefully crafted dance moves and even had a crowd-riveting rock-out moment when the band picked up the tempo and she let her long beautiful locks whirlwind around the stage.

There were plenty of fun moments. She allowed the crowd to sing along to "Gonna be Alright" which saw the return of Robert Glasper to the stage. The song was featured on his Black Radio album. Ledisi also got the background singer and dancers involved in amazing chair dance and demonstration of a woman's walk and why every woman should have one.

The show hit its peak when Ledisi slowed things down for "Lose Control." Another outfit change had her in a long, beautiful, blue gown as she brought the sexy part of her set to a sensual frenzy through her incredible vocal range. At some point in the song, she jazz scatted and the crowd ate it up. The night ended with her current hit, "I Blame You" and the crowd was overjoyed.

Throughout the night of costume changes and dance moves, the most consistent thing was Ledisi's incredible voice and music. It's still a wonder why she hasn't seen the mainstream success as some of her peers. Perhaps it may be that her message isn't one of twerking or lusting after men or money but "loving yourself by any means necessary."

She displayed un-denying power and angelic vocal grace in her performance, and mostly she left her mark on an attentive crowd and did what she wanted to do. That was share her life and sing "The Truth."

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