Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Jill Scott: Opening Night at the House of Blues

In a town where superficiality is always in fashion, singer/actress Jill Scott brought The Real Thing, to a standing room only crowd at the House of Blues in West Hollywood. Rocking a 'fro that would make Angela Davis proud and dressed in a mock Kimono and jeans, the gifted poet turned music sensation greeted the roaring crowd like family sans the hug--all smiles and welcoming, "hello's"

With her band, Fatback Taffy, she hit us first with The Real Thing a head-nodding, rock infused cut just to knock the kinks out of the sound system. When the kinks or in this case, audio feedback, would not stop, Jill took a moment to do a mic check. It was the prettiest mic check I've ever heard. She yodeled! And just to show off her vocal repertoire, she also rapped like an experienced old school MC while performing Breathe. I'm not talking my-first-rap-song-from-grade-school either. Jill spit effortlessly, moving from rapping to singing without missing a beat. Ain't heard or seen that since Lauryn.

Blending in songs from her past albums she refreshed our memories of old hits with new renditions of Long Walk, Golden, and my go-go favorite It's Love. The crowd was grooving, but not as much as I was. Go-Go music is hard to come by on the west coast, so Fatback dropped the beat I reverted to my college pre-dawn party days. Oh, the memories! Then she slowed it down to get her freak, uhmmm, I mean her slow jam on. Of course, she wasn't alone in her Celibacy Blues and thoughts just running Cross My Mind. Fans starting singing the erotic lyrics of the new songs--Crown Royal and Epiphany before she could get the words out of her mouth. Even she was surprised how well the crowd responded to the new stuff. "The album only been out a couple weeks," she said, "and y'all already know the words." That's right Jill! That's what fans do!

The show ended with an abbreviated yet amazing rendition of Lyzel in E Flat. As if singing, rapping, poetry, and yodeling wasn't enough, Jill dipped into her formal training and delivered a beautiful aria that would make even Leontyne Price proud. And with that, she said good night and existed the stage. Sadly, no encore followed.

I've told you all the good, so I'm going to address the bad just to give balance to what I see circulating on the internet about the show. You may have heard that Jill cursed at a member of the crowd during her performance. That is true. However, a concert goer near the stage said something between songs that plucked Jill's nerves because she explained, "I'm 35 years old, you can't tell me what to do." The words that followed from the floor I could not hear but it provoked Jill to tell the individual to "shut the f***k up" and to warn him/her that security would escort them out if they kept talking. Once that was said, Jill went right back into performing and gave us a great show. So, if you read on the internet that Jill cursed out some fans that screamed "I Love You" IT'S NOT TRUE. It did not go down like that! Jill talked to the crowd all night between songs about her music and life as she always does during her concerts. That one brief incident was not reflective of the entire show nor do I believe is reflective of her character in general.

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