Sunday, October 21, 2018

Concert Review: Erykah Badu at the Sprint Center

Things began to look up when Erykah Badu fell down at the Sprint Center on Friday.  I sensed a glimmer of hope as the headliner continued singing while lying prone on the stage after tripping over the curtain that had been dropped shortly after her performance began at 11:40 p.m.

Up to that moment, my $46.50 ticket- the least expensive seat for the Fountain City Blues & Jazz Festival that was slated to begin at 8 p.m.- had purchased nothing but disappointment.  CeeLo Green’s set was discombobulated.  Goodie Mob was pedestrian, a “comedian” told recycled jokes and an R&B vocalist repeatedly shouted “f--- that n-----.”  The concert's promoter had the gall to announce his candidacy for the City Council of Kansas City in the midst of the mess.  When the restless audience of more than 4,000 took up a chant of “Badu” after 11 p.m., an emcees ridiculed them before snapping “calm down, god damn it.”

Only a miracle could had salvaged the debacle.  And that’s just what occurred.  Badu admitted that “I fell down for real” as stagehands helped her to her feet.  From that moment on, she and her large band were transcendent.

As she conducted the musicians with the severity of Buddy Rich, Badu sounded like Billie Holiday singing over a keyboard-dominated remix of Miles Davis’ 1972 album On the Corner.  Otherworldly versions of hits like “Window Seat,” “Didn’t Cha Know” and “On & On” were less neo-soul than 21st century jazz.  The spell was broken only when when the house lights were abruptly switched on in the middle of a song at 12:37 a.m.

“That was Satan himself” Badu suggested of a rare “bad groove” during her hour-long outing.  Perhaps.  Her appearance at the Sprint Center was a radiant slice of heaven during a night that was otherwise a heaping helping of concert-going hell.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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