Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Soul Grooves: On D'Angelo, 1999

Reading about D'Angelo's concerts in Europe got me to thinking about his first return on October 8, 1999 after not performing live for five years. By chance I found a few scribbled notes from that magical night...

Sitting in the audience of the Chris Rock Show the day after a wild hurricane blew through New York City. The day before, Prince performed a private concert, some kind of promotional event that Arista Records put together for Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic...the album was wack, but the show was slamming.

My friend Audrey LaCatis, who booked the talent for the show, invited me to the Chris Rock taping and the seats are amazing. The audience roars when the star comedian comes on stage and introduces D'Angelo...everyone from the cuties in skirts to hard rocks in sweat shirts is excited about dude's appearance and the soon-come Voodoo album. most of us haven't seen the brother in years, and we're ready to jam

There is a brief break while the crew pulls out Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson drums... he played the day before with Prince as well...his huge Afro seems on the verge of exploding as D walks out on stage, cool as midnight as he pimp walks to the mic. wearing all black, the women scream when he pulls off his jacket and begins rapping about "cans of Crisco on the stove" as he begins to perform a new song called "Chicken Grease."

Pino is in the pocket, background singer Anthony Hamilton is wailing the blues and brother D is possessed by the funky spirits past: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4XI6LXCsH8
Later that night the party is moved to the Kit Kat Klub The spot is packed with more celebrities than a Biggie video. I'm sitting at dream hampton's table while she and her homegirl crew celebrate her birthday.

We wait hours for D to come on and in the meantime everybody in the spot is drinking, puffing and the vibe is pure joyful intoxication...somebody gives me a hit of Ecstasy and, when I'm introduced to a young singer named Kelis, I tell her that her wild hair "looks like angel wings." She smiles sweetly and about twenty minutes later D'Angelo finally comes on stage. He is soon joined by Q-Tip on a song called "Left & Right" and the crowd is losing their collective minds... drunk, high or whatever, we all are lost in the soulful grooves.

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