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While seeing Erykah Badu isn’t a life-changing experience, experiencing her artistry is definitely something for your bucket list.
|Venue||New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJ Pac)|
|Venue Address||Newark, NJ|
|Good If You Like||Minimal Changes to How their Songs Sounded When Recorded|
The Opening Act(s)
To My Surprise, There Were None.
After a half hour wait, so begins a “Call Tyrone” mix which is just a tease. For the real first song is “Hello” to greet us. During that, we begin to see Badu use this curious looking light show which, outside of her vocals, and the occasional dance move, is probably the most interesting thing on stage. But with Badu being 20 years in the game, alongside 46, with her son Seven behind her, she isn’t here to do tricks.
From what it seems, she just wanted to share the journey she has been on with us. Hence why she kicks it back to “On & On,” “Love of My Life,” “Apple Tree,” “Danger,” “Otherside of the Game” and more. Of course including “Call Tyrone,” in full, alongside “Back in the Day.” However, there isn’t a sort of flow through songs. Unlike Jill Scott, as much as Badu maybe celebrating her life’s work, the transitions don’t tell a story. There is just usually a joke and then her doing a remix of the song, to show off her DJ skills, before going into it close to how we were introduced to the track.
But perhaps one of the best parts, of course outside of hearing your favorite songs, is the fact Badu showcases her band. From the people playing instruments to the vocalist, they all showed that with the right opportunity, they could one-day co-headline with Badu. Especially her singers. Oh my god, she only gives their first names, of which I only heard the first one, Lola, but DAMN!
She Kept Her Songs Fresh But Kept Them Familiar
It’s impossible to imagine someone singing the same song, for however many years, the exact same way. Just listening to a song on the radio, or your phone, over a week, maybe months, leads you to get tired of it. Imagine doing that multiple times a week to feed you and your family?
But, unlike Jill Scott, who made it so it took you longer than it should to know what the hell she was playing, Badu doesn’t go off the road with her mixes. It seems she gets that you didn’t come for her to recreate classics. Changing the beats, maybe a bit more inflection, wails, and what not, that is what she does. After all, this is technically a greatest hits tour so why mess with what is her best work, you know?
She Covered Most of Her Hits
Within an almost 2 hour set, Badu covers damn near most of the songs which have brought her to this privilege. She doesn’t do “Next Lifetime,” “Honey,” “I Want You,” “Boogie Nights/ All Night Long,” ”Certainly,” and a few other notable ones, but you will feel like you got your money’s worth.
Her Backing Band
What I love is that, like Tank and The Bangas, though for them it was because of circumstances, Badu really put the spotlight on her band and backing vocals. Which led to quite the experience for when they wailed or were really going in, it made you wish the show came with a program so you could easily find these people’s social media accounts. For Lola, among the others, I’d love to know what they may already have out there.
Also, I got to bring up her bringing Seven with her. Being that he is 19 going on 20, so about the age of Baduizm, and she said that album was for them 90s babies, it made for a sweet moment. Especially because, while he seemed sort of meh at first, once he really got into it you began to see he was not on that stage solely due to nepotism. The boy, who is studying psychology, and is a sophomore, can play!
30 Minute Wait
I don’t think any concert starts on time. I’m not sure why but, even though I know I should get used to it, because I so infrequently go to concerts it still pisses me off. Especially because, in my mind, assuming Badu didn’t have an opening act for this entire tour, it cuts down on one major excuse. And while I get, being that she was performing at NJPAC in Newark, NJ – a Black predominate area/ venue, CP time might have been factored in – no excuse.
After all, they could have just had the backup singers perform or something.
Forgettable Song Transitions
Outside of shouting out the venue and state she was in, I couldn’t tell you one thing Badu said between songs. She mentioned how old she is, how long she has been in the game, but besides that I got nothing. Which was sort of an issue to me only because I’m used to the transitions being us getting to really get to know the artist. And while, yeah, it isn’t like the internet doesn’t exist, and Badu can be looked up on Google, you want to know more than what you can Google.
Take for instance her shouting out her DJ who produced such hits as “Doin’ It” for LL Cool J, “If I Ruled The World” By Nas featuring Lauryn Hill, and others. To hear how they hooked up, or something like that, would have been cool. To hear more about the backgrounds of songs, how they relate to her current place in life, and etc would have been a great addition to how she mixes them.
And mind you, maybe it is just with Badu’s smooth-talking voice, and eccentricities, I missed something. That is possible but, for the most part, outside of giving herself some props and noting the importance of Baduizm, and of course shouting out the crowd, that was about the extent of her interactions with us. Outside of asking us to sing parts of her songs of course.
Waste of a Backing Screen
Mind you, after Jill Scott, I decided I’m not spending $100+ on a concert so I’m in the rafters. However, considering how much out there stuff Badu is into and speaks about, what I could see of the screen behind her, I was expecting more than the visualizations you get from Windows Media Player.
Overall: Mixed (Video Recording)
Badu vs. Everythang is by no means a bad concert. However, like many concerts, I feel that, unless you really need to feel the thump of the bass, want to hear your fave wail live, maybe see their skin, there isn’t much point in paying $50+. Especially in the case of performers like Badu who aren’t incorporating a huge amount of dance and spectacle into their performances. It is basically just the band, them, a mic, and a light show.
Hence the mixed label. For while I wouldn’t tell anyone seeing Badu live is a waste of time, I wouldn’t necessarily gush about my own experience.