D’Angelo Live In Australia – One, Two, Three, Four

After experiencing the first three of D’Angelo’s four incredible Australian shows, I was mysteriously left feeling less than fully satisfied. It didn’t make sense when D’Angelo and The mini Vanguard touring with him had just delivered flawless, stunning performances to Melbourne, Sydney and Byron Bay Bluesfest audiences.

D'Angelo concert Australia 2016

#1 – Melbourne’s Palais Theatre

D'Angelo concert Australia 2016

# 2 – Sydney Opera House

D'Angelo live concert - Bluesfest 2016

# 3 – Byron Bay Bluesfest

 

 

 

 

 

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D’Angelo, Every Time

D’Angelo’s phenomenal vocal range and delivery as well as his skills on piano and guitar, are unquestionable. They are simply and absolutely sublime to hear live – every time.

D'Angelo concert Australia 2016

So is Michael “D’Angelo” Archer’s joyful high energy and super-smooth, confident engagement with the crowd. Man or woman, even if you only care about the sounds of music, who out there wouldn’t blush if D’angelo looked you in the eye and pointed at you while ever-so-naturally singing “I feel like makin’ love to you” in his voice from on high?

D'Angelo concert - Bluesfest 2016, Australia

At all his Australian shows D’Angelo undoubtedly demonstrated he’s a musician, artist and performer of equal wonder to the legendary R&B, funk and soul artists who influenced and shaped him. Some of them he payed tribute to in his sets (“She’s Always In My Hair” by Prince, “Red Hot Mama” by Funkadelic and “Brent Fischer Interlude” by Black Messiah collaborator Brent Fischer). D’Angelo does all those artists and their music justice, and then some. And how many contemporary artists can we say that about in 2016?

D'Angelo live concert Australia 2016

No I don’t think my slight and mysterious dissatisfaction was about D’Angelo’s performances. They made me smile from ear to ear in awe.

The [mini] Vanguard 

Did I miss hearing the distinctive bass sounds of Pino Palladino, the live horns and the gorgeous complementary female vocals of Kendra Foster or Joi Gilliam usually heard with The Vanguard? Sure I did. But their absence alone wasn’t leaving me with that feeling.

Because technically the seven insanely-skilled musicians on stage with D’Angelo played and sang almost flawlessly. Although he appeared nervous or daunted at times, Pino’s son Rocco Palladino did an admirable job on bass. And any opportunity to hear Chris “Daddy” Dave on drums, Jesse Johnson and Isaiah Sharkey on guitars, Bobby Ray Sparks on keys/samples or Jermaine Holmes and Charles “Red” Middleton on background vocals…is a blessed one I would gleefully take any time. They all killed it. And I appreciated hearing every note they played and sang on Australian stages.

D'Angelo concert Australia 2016

Chris Dave (l) – Isaiah Sharkey (m)

Jesse Johnson - D'Angelo & The Vanguard 2016

Jesse Johnson

Rocco Palladino with The Vanguard- Bluesfest 2016

Rocco Palladino

D'Angelo And The Vanguard concert Australia 2016

Bobby Sparks (r)

Jermaine Holmes - D'Angelo concert 2016

Jermaine Holmes

D'Angelo And The Vanguard concert Australia 2016

Red Middleton (l) – Chris Dave (m) – Isaiah Sharkey (r)

Looking Back

Was it the group’s set-list choices that left me wanting more? Maybe a little. In my world every song they played is a “Beloved Forever-After Song”. It’s true that all were arranged and delivered in funked-up, rocked-out, soulful brilliance. And hearing each one made me happy.

But a set made up of “Brown Sugar”; three/four jams on other artists’ songs, four/five songs from Voodoo (“Devil’s Pie”“Chicken Grease”“Untitled (How Does It Feel)”“Left & Right”, “Feel Like Makin’ Love”); and only three from Black Messiah (“The Charade”“Really Love”“Back To The Future”/ “Sugah Daddy” at Bluesfest)…curiously felt like a look back to the distant (albeit magnificent) past.

D'Angelo concert Australia 2016

Objectively the set choice might’ve been the safe bet when playing to Australian audiences made up of admirers from different D’Angelo eras. But for disciples who love every song he and his collaborators ever created, but appreciate the group’s artistry even more since the release of Black Messiah; and for newer disciples (including many young musicians there) because of Black Messiah, only hearing a small part of that album felt strange. Especially after they spent the past year promoting it through North America and Europe on The Second Coming Tour.

DAngelo - Black Messiah (2014)

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“Aint That Easy” – Black Messiah (2014)

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“The Show”

Maybe my mysterious feeling was about being delivered a “show”. I guess when you reach the professional playing levels D’Angelo And The Vanguard have, with their intense tour schedule performing show after show in different cities, having a pre-formulated, programmed “show” for perfect and tight execution on cue by a lot of musicians and crew might be more necessary, or pragmatic, or safer.

But the flip-side to that is a loss of organic spontaneity – musically and otherwise. As an audience member I still crave that spontaneity no matter how incredible the show is. No matter how amusing it might be to see D’Angelo mimic kissing a woman “way down there”; or how much I like seeing he, Jesse Johnson and Isaiah Sharkey come together with their guitars in those moments. It makes me wonder if creative artists performing on stage also crave it at some point on their touring road.

D'Angelo And The Vanguard concert Australia 2016

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Fourth, Final, Full Satisfaction

Whatever the mysterious, probably unreasonable thing that left me feeling not-quite-full after three incredible D’Angelo shows, it disappeared and mattered not once the the fourth and final Australian show happened on Saturday night at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016.

D'Angelo concert - Bluesfest 2016, Australia

# 4 – Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016

Finally and inexplicably all seemed as it naturally should be at a D’Angelo gig. With everyone seemingly vibin’ on the experience, together. The set-list was nearly the same but as a Byron Bay sider might say: there was some indescribably-different type of musical and energetic magic that happened at Saturday’s closing show…leaving peeps there connected, loved-up and on high. It was created collectively by everyone there of course, hopefully felt by them too.

D'Angelo live concert - Bluesfest 2016

Everyone at Melbourne, Sydney and Bluesfest shows (and others around the world) had their very own experience of D’Angelo And The Vanguard live. Maybe it was nothing at all like mine. Surely it was special.

Leave a comment if you want to share yours – we wanna hear it!

D'Angelo live concert Australia 2016

Visit Beaver on the Beats on Facebook for more photos from these & other D’Angelo And The Vanguard shows; click a link for individual shows: London Roundhouse (2015) –  Melbourne Soulfest 2014 Brisbane Soulfest 2014; and check back here soon for Byron Bay Bluesfest’s dream main stage line-up with Kendrick Lamar, D’Angelo, Kamasi Washington & West Coast Get Down and Hiatus Kaiyote.

Future-Soul Artist Wallace Releases ‘Vinyl Skip’

New Zealand Music Month has just begun. About the same time last week Beaver was praising the unique sounds of music coming out of Aotearoa (New Zealand) in recent decades – a promising, young New Zealand-born “future soul” artist named Wallace was digitally-releasing her debut single Vinyl Skip.

Wallace Gollan - Vinyl Skip

Wallace Gollan is a jazz-trained singer/songwriter who cites NGAIIRE, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Hiatus Kaiyote and Little Dragon amongst her influences. So then, what we know about this artist already is that her musical roots are grounded in goodness.

Next we can conjure up beautiful imagery from this Vinyl Skip story Wallace shares:

“Vinyl Skip came about after I misheard a rap by Common. He’s talking about life and says “let’s spend it slow forever”. I thought he’d said “Let’s spin it slow forever” and got this image of two people dancing to a record spinning too slow but not caring cause it meant they could dance for longer and get lost in the moment.”

Wallace Gollan

Photo by Matthew Predny

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Hear the sounds of Vinyl Skip

 

And wait patiently for the release of Wallace’s forthcoming EP to better get to know the sounds of this emerging female artist (for now you can only buy the digital single).

Until then, look out for the chance to experience hearing Wallace’s stunning voice live. She’s now Sydney-based so folks in Australia are more likely to get theirs sooner than the rest of the world.

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic Givin’ Up The Funk Live In Sydney

Any cats or kitties out there whippin or wailin and jumpin up and down tellin each other who the greatest contemporary funk cats in the world are can just zip it.

Those cats are George Clinton & the Parliament Funkadelic collective, of course.

I knew it a while back when the gift of the new Funkadelic album First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate came.

Funkadelic - First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate (2014)

If there was any doubt then (there wasn’t) I know it unequivocally now after having the unfunkinbelievably-crazy-amazing live P-Funk experience at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre on Wednesday night.

Parliament Funkadelic live concert - Sydney, Australia 2015

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic live at Enmore Theatre, Sydney 2015

Dr Funkenstein

At the helm of the Parliament Funkadelic mothership in 2015 remains Dr Funkenstein himself, George Clinton – a musical innovator and visionary who continues now in his 70’s like he always has, to put his paw prints into our present, past and future of music. On stage in the live arena George Clinton now like always, facilitates, directs, performs, sings and shakes his ass with that innately-oozing musical and manly style, panache and cool he is loved and respected for by millions of people around the world.

Parliament Funkadelic live concert - Sydney, Australia 2015

P Funk in 2015

Alongside George Clinton on Australian stages, keepin’ the funk, glorious funk alive and well as promised is a fresh, multi-generational collective of 14+ super-talented cats from P Funk days of old and new. I’m gonna name the artists I can and apologise to any I miss crediting for their awe-inspiring chops that put a smile on everyone’s faces during the entire Sydney show and long thereafter.

Ricky Rouse playing his guitar every which way; Lige Curry on bass; Benzel Baltimore on drums; Bennie Cowan on trumpet; Robert “P-Nut” Johnson and Michael “Clip” Payne on vocals; Gregory Thomas on saxophone; Danny Bedrosian on keys/synths; Garrett Shider (son of the dearly-departed P Funk guitarist/musical director from early Parliament Funkadelic days Garry Shider) on guitar; Thurteen Thurteen who sung his vocals from both on stage and amongst the crowd; and George Clinton’s grand kiddies Tonysha Nelson, Patavian Lewis and Tracey “Tra’Zae” Lewis-Clinton on vocals. Melbourne funkateers at Friday’s Parliament-Funkadelic show also got another one of the P Funk guitar legends on stage – Dewayne “Blackbyrd” McKnight.

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The spaceship might not make an appearance on stages these days but a Parliament Funkadelic show would not be that, without the appearance of one or more of its beloved characters. This time George Clinton brought along Starchild’s nemesis from days of old – the vain, “too-cool-for-everything-real” pimpster Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk (in 2015, aka Carlos McMurray). Before the night was done there was nothing for Sir Nose to do of course but succumb to the funk and get down and dirty with the best of them.

Parliament Funkadelic live concert - Sydney, Australia 2015

Parliament Funkadelic live concert - Sydney, Australia 2015

Check out this video from the Sydney show featuring Sir Nose.

George Clinton maintains Parliament Funkadelic has kept its musical currency throughout its long history by keeping a focus on the younger generation of artists who’ve formed part of the ever-changing collective at different times. True to that belief the Sydney set was opened with a medley of First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate tracks collaboratively performed by George Clinton and his younger P Funk counterparts. Check out a video here of the ‘Pole Power‘/‘Baby Like Fonkin’ It Up’/ ‘Get Low’ medley plus a [dirty mp3] sample of the album version of ‘Pole Power’ below.

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‘Pole Power’ – Parliament Funkadelic – First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate (2014)

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After a short taste of new Parliament Funkadelic music, the rest of the Sydney set was made up of the most well-known and popular songs of old like ‘Flashlight’ and ‘Give Up The Funk’. There was just so much incredible musical shit constantly happening all over the stage during the entire set that (impossibly) I wanted to hear, see and to dance with eyes closed to every single sound played.

I once read a review of a Parliament Funkadelic concert where the writer said their 90-minute set made the gig too long. Surely no true funkateer would think, feel or say that?  George Clinton & Paliament Funkadelic played brilliantly for two blissful hours in Sydney and it was but a minuscule of the vast, beloved Parliament Funkadelic catalogue. I could have funked out with them all night long and then some.

Parliament Funkadelic live concert - Sydney, Australia 2015

Many thousands of funkateers will be blessed tomorrow to get their own glorious dose of George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic playing live at Byron Bay Bluesfest.

For those who won’t, the consolation prize is this here final video from Parliament Funkadelic’s Sydney show.