all words: Robb Scott
all photos: Aditya Banerjee
For Wednesday night’s Raphael Saadiq show, the 9:30 club was transformed into a soul factory for four hours of pure bliss. In promotion of his most recent album, Stone Rollin’, Saadiq brought along Yunalis “Yuna” Zarai and Quadron for the ride.
Up first, Yuna, a Malaysian singer/songwriter who stands alone on stage with just a mic and her guitar. My first inclination was to simply dismiss her as sounding like just another Sara Bareilles or Feist, but she is so much more than that. Her voice does resemble such artists, but she contains a certain soul uniquely her own. Having previously performed small gigs in her home country, she was recently noticed about a year ago.
Her set included an inviting survey of her debut EP; it was quite a joy to hear what she had to offer. Her lyrics are so humble and sweet, a beautiful reflection of what her persona appeared to be on stage. She wrapped up with a song in her native language; a break-up song of sorts which is about moving-on, “Dan Sebenarnya.”
Tackling the genre of soul from a different, more aggressive angle was Quadron. The Danish duo is fronted by Coco Maja Hastrup Karshøj, with instrumentals by Robin Hannibal—the two promote themselves as Emo-Soul. Though her exterior makes her come off as angry, it only plays to her benefit. Her vocals contain a distinct power which is reminiscent of Adele, a grittiness of Amy Winehouse, and a soothing quality similar to Les Nubians. Hannibal’s rhythms and melodies compliment that strength, but keep the emotion playful where it could easily drift to bluesy.
Deserving special recognition is Karshøj’s choice in stage-attire—wearing a black and silver beaded dress with a sweetheart back, she represented for the fuller figured women out there. If Quadron’s intentions musically is to create an atmosphere of a wine lounge/jazz bar, then she definitely dressed the part.
As a duo, they’re seemed to be a slight disconnect between the two mood-wise. While Karshøj came off as slow and sensual, Hannibal was lively and excitable. While Hannibal didn’t say much on stage, Karshøj provided ample charm: “…I added Obama to the guest-list; but I guess he didn’t come. Oh well.” Kudos to them for covering Michael Jackson’s “Baby Be Mine”—Hannibal’s vocals really shined through here.
Once Raphael Saadiq finally took the stage, there was no question about where this soul train was headed. I felt like I’d taken a step into the past, back to the 60s when Motwon and Doo-Wop were the only sounds worth grooving to. He came prepared with a four-piece band and two extra vocalists to back him up—from the jump, they were all ready to just let loose and party.
Having seen Saadiq perform last summer, I had a pretty set idea of what to expect—a bit of female-pandering, songs about good love, the obligatory Lucy Pearl and Tony! Toni! Toné! songs. I was right for the most part; only difference, this show saw him not just running the motions, but organically producing what his fans most desire: him, his voice, the tracks they play most on repeat. He certainly had a number of women, and a few select men, swooning like the girls you would see on those 60s television shows at concerts. What I didn’t know, Raphel Saadiq apparently has the power to incite violence—it was both funny and disturbing to see two women brawling midway through his set.
During the expected obligatory Tony! Toni! Toné! track, “Anniversary,” Raphael Saadiq opened the stage to a young couple… what followed was a wedding proposal (I really have an issue with public proposals, but that’s not really important). The night was filled with moments like this; at one point he shared the mic with one fiery redheaded woman, with a just as explosive voice (If anyone caught her name, do share… she’s a local artist, and local = love should be shown).
Raphael Saadiq left little to expand upon once he returned to the stage for his encore; he’d already blown the roof off the house. His backing band and vocalists also deserve a nod for maintaining the sock-hop feel of the show. I seriously doubt anyone left this show not in a better mood than what they entered with.
- Someone Out of Town
- Deeper Conversation
- Dan Sebenarnya
- Average Fruit
- Buster Keaton
- Baby Be Mine (Michael Jackson cover)
- Staying in Love
- Heart Attack
- Love that Girl (So Sweet and Tender)
- 100 Yard Dash
- Keep Marchin’
- Sure Hope You Mean It
- Movin’ Down the Line
- Just Don’t
- Dance Tonight
- Be Here
- Stone Rollin
- Good Man
- Lay Your Head On My Pillow
- Just Me and You (Bobby Valentino featured track)
- Ask of You
- Get Involved
- Skyy, Can You Feel Me
- Over You
- Go to Hell