Janelle Monáe Picks Up The Torch At The State Theatre


The universe always strives for balance. So the make up for the onslaught of obnoxious reality TV stars and the Kardashian clan it give us: Janelle Monáe! Since 2007’s Metropolis she has not only excelled in her music but also as a producer, actress and fashion icon. 2018’s release of “Dirty Computer” paired with a revealing interview in Rolling Stone showed us a more personal side than the Android persona she had presented in the past. Yesterday’s performance at the State Theatre was a hot ticket, long sold out.

St. Beauty, the duo of Alexe Belle and Isis Valentino started the evening on time by German standards (aka 5 minutes early). They bring a lot of energy to the stage with the first few songs being almost an aerobic exercise.  As fans were streaming in for the headliner they got pulled into St. Beauty’s performance.

Set List: Borders / Colors / Caught / Holographic Lover / Tides / Prototype (OutKast cover) / Stone Mountain / Lucid Dreams / Not Discuss It

Janelle Monáe’s set started with her being rolled on and off the stage on a gurney covered in sheets – a reference to her android persona. “Dirty Computer” her first song instantly brought almost everyone at the sold out State Theatre out of their seats. Monáe’s show is meticulously produced and rehearsed but it retains its organic, natural feel. Everything on stage wias red, black or white (with a few sparkly bits) Here’s a few very random observations from my notebook:

  • Body suits with black and white chequered patterns enhance booty shaking
  • The first few songs blended into one delivered at breakneck pace for – hard to tell when the first 3 were done (that’s when we have to stop photographing)
  • Rats! Costume change after the first 3 songs
  • That pony tail!!
  • Monáe walks up and down those stairs enough to eliminate any need for StairMaster exercise
  • Hats off to the choreography – who remembers all those moves?
  • Moonwalk! With Mic Stand!
  • Spirit Fingers (Electric Lady) are being returned in kind by the crowd
  • Mic stands change with the costumes (there’s one with a b&w pattern)
  • “It doesn’t matter who you love” – tons of couples hugging in the audience

Her deep connection with the late Prince was evident through her set. “This place means something so special to me – Our hero, Prince.” was the vocal statement but it was the musical moments that paid homage to his legacy. Monáe did not cover a Prince song – his touch was in a few guitar riffs and so many parts woven into her music. Like the purple one Monáe takes full control of her art. She writes, arranges, and produces. She seeks out other artists for collaborations and is not afraid to reinvent herself without loosing her core.

With her latest album and her new political and activist Monáe has become an important figure for our future. There may be Androids in our future, but I’m strangely ok with that. I for one left deeply impressed.

Set List: Dirty Computer / Crazy, Classic, Life / Take a Byte / Screwed / Django Jane / Q.U.E.E.N. / Electric Lady / PrimeTime / Pynk / Yoga / I Like That / Don’t Judge Me / Make Me Feel / I Got the Juice / Cold War / Tightrope  Encore: So Afraid / Americans