Esperanza Spalding live in New York
- By Rob Milton -
- Apr 26, 2012
Jazz composer, bassist, vocalist and all around burgeoning star, Esperanza Spalding lit up the New York City sky this past weekend by kicking of the world tour to accompany her latest release, ‘Radio Music Society’. Joined by a 12 piece band, the 2011 Grammy Award Best New Artist winner captivated the hearts and lifted the spirits of all who assembled in New York’s Webster Hall.
As an avid music lover and frequent concert attendee, it is rare that I enter into a venue without knowing every lyric to every song that the featured artist has ever recorded. Although, I have long admired the work of Esperanza, I hadn’t spent enough time with any of her material prior to entering the venue. Outside of the two or three songs that I did know and sing along to, I found myself forced to sit and thoroughly delight in the splendor of pure unadulterated musicianship.
From the big band formatting to the stage’s starry lights and radio décor, every aspect of this artsy jazz and funk-fused celebration perfectly pieced together with Esperanza Spalding’s flawless talent serving as an adhesive. With Tia Fuller, former member of Beyoncé’s illustrious all girl band known as The Suga Mamas, serving as Musical Director, Esperanza and this league of extraordinary musicians soared through ‘Radio Music Society’ with ease.
From ‘Smile Like That’ to ‘Crowned & Kissed’, ‘Hold On Me’ and ‘Cinnamon Tree’, Esperanza Spalding didn’t miss a beat as she rolled through her newest material. Not only did she captivate the crowd with her voice and both of her basses (electric and double), but her storytelling and authentic conversation pulled us all in with each word. One of the night’s biggest highlights, of course, had to have been hearing every voice in the arena lifted together singing ‘Black Gold’ (sans originally featured guest Algebra Blessett). Before beginning the hit single, she noted that the song did not refer to any one specific race but all of humankind, which many believe originally descended from Africa.
As for the second strongest moment of the night, Esperanza along with Tia Fuller, on alto saxophone, turned to a jazzy rendition of the classic Stevie Wonder penned Michael Jackson hit ‘I Can’t Help It’, leaving New York in sheer bliss. Finally she completed the night’s set with ‘Radio Song’ allowing each band member and even the audience a moment shine and sing along. The crowd roared and continued singing as the lights dimmed and Esperanza slowly walked off of the stage. Even once she was no longer in sight, the crowd continued in pandemonium until she returned.
Following a completely stripped down encore performance of ‘Precious’ from her 2008 sophomore album, Esperanza left the stage with a smile on her face as the room fell dark and filled with applause. Yes, New York witnessed a night without gimmick, extravagant costuming or choreographed background dancers, and enjoyed every brilliantly breath-taking second.
This guest blog complies to Virgin.com terms & conditions.