The turnout was surprisingly high for a Sunday night, and the entire room was itching to dance. Knowing this, soul singer Jamie Lidell, critically lauded as the most recent musician responsible for bringing funk back to the white man, adroitly built up anticipation by
allowing his four-piece band (guitar, drums, keyboard and sax) to casually saunter onstage before him. When he finally appeared, it was like a landmine going off. The room erupted in cheers and Lidell went right into “Another Day.” Lidell swung and swayed like a Motown Elvis with Buddy Holly looks. Enlisting the crowd to sing falsetto backup for “Out of My System” and armed with what appeared to be a modified radar gun that worked like a shotgun mic, he recorded beats, chants from the crowd and saxophone arpeggios, and warped them into ambient PowerBook techno-pop before us. An improvised scat session slowly took shape, but went on for about five minutes longer than it should have. Coming back in on “The City” (from the 2005 album Multiply) didn’t quite save the groove, but “Little Bit of Feel Good” did, bringing Lidell’s saxophonist to centre stage playing two saxophones at once, while looking uncannily like a love child between Jesus Christ and Al Borland.
Sounding as though Marvin Gaye were 20 years younger (and alive, for that matter), Lidell’s magnetic presence onstage had every woman in the place ogling him with bedroom eyes, especially when he took a moment to tell some tales of dreams he’d had or how much he loved his kid nephew. Continuing on the theme of Gaye pride, “Green Light” may as well have been written by Marvin himself, and the explosive finale of “Wait for Me” ended with Lidell thrashing around and losing his glasses in one last bout of foot-stomping mania.
This was Lidell’s first show on his North American tour and it can only multiply from here.