Well, last night was…………..Interesting
Don’t get me wrong, that’s a very good statement coming from someone who sees 100+ concerts each year. At times I struggle coming up with something to write about performers who have little to make them stand out from their genre. How do you review “Generic Metal Band With Screaming Singer” or “Bearded Hipsters With Banjo” when you’re not familiar with the band and there’s nothing really memorable happening on stage? One thing is certain – I sure did not have that problem at the Cedar last night.
Starting the evening was Tunde Olaniran from Flint, MI. The set started with 2 dancers on stage for the intro and Tunde joining them after a few minutes. As he stepped up to the mike I was not sure what to expect, a falsetto vocal track, I sure did not.
He performed with the music on a backing track (impressive considering the complexity of his set), but there was no Ashlee Simpson moment – as he took a couple of steps back from the mike the voice shifted and it was clearly him singing. Most of the audience was familiar with him and as he put it “We exchange joy” through the set. His music is as interesting has his stage persona. A blend of Hip Hop and Gospel with cool dance tunes underneath.
More than half the crowd at the Cedar lined up to meet him at the merch booth after his set, so clearly I was not the only one who enjoyed his performance.I became aware of Shara Nova the mind behind My Brightest Diamond a few months ago when she was in town at First Ave, but could not make schedules match. Since then “Champagne” from her album “A Million And One” has been getting steady radio play and I was happy to catch her at the Cedar last night.
Only her drummer was on stage at the start of the set and as she started singing everyone was looking around – she was in the crowd and making her way on stage through her fans. The aptly named “Dance Floor” had her whirling around and gave us an idea of the force behind this artist.
I was fascinated how she weaved in and out of genres and music styles from on song to the next. From dancy numbers, to ballads in the moonlight, to “artsy” numbers where her voice seemed disconnected from the music. It all felt genuine and made perfect sense. Olaniran joined her for a song on stage and seeing the two powerful personalities work in harmony was fascinating to watch. Then there were glimpses of the raw person behind the performer like a shy wave from the stage between songs.
Needless to say, I enjoyed the heck out of my brief time with these two exemplary artists. If you get an opportunity to catch either one of them, take a chance. The only thing that could have made my night better would have been decent front lights at capturing pictures was a bit of a challenge. So Cedar, when I win the lottery, you’ll get a donation for new stage lights
Set List: Dance Floor / This Is My Hand / Rising Star / Champagne / Teeth / I Want Candy / Million Pearls / Supernova / Sway / Another Chance / Dorian / Beside A Boy – The Rest Was Blurry / Dark 🙁