Aloe Blacc with Tutu Sweeney & The Brothers Band
May 21, 2011
Detroit Bar, Costa Mesa
Aloe Blacc kicked off his North American tour with Tutu Sweeney & The Brothers Band with a sold out homecoming show at the Detroit Bar. Everyone in the audience was so proud of the OC native--his record Good Things recently went gold in France and singles from the record are topping Euro radio charts. No one seemed to know who the opening band was, or even that there was going to be an opening band. It wasn't listed on the Detroit Bar's website or on Stones Throw's. Slightly confused but pleasantly surprised by this mystery band, we were into their songs about slaying dragons, finding treasures, and stalking beautiful women. A girl in the audience--probably a friend of the band--had to nudge them to give their name three or four songs in.
In an orange button up shirt, tight black jeans, and a herringbone vest (the very same outfit from his adorable video with a dancing kid for Good Things standout "Loving You Is Killing Me), Aloe Blacc came to the stage after a long instrumental introduction from his band The Grand Scheme. Flashing a big smile, Aloe gave shout outs to his parents and cousins and all his high school friends who came out to the show to support him.
The Grand Scheme launched into "Hey Brother" and played straight through the entire set without stopping even once for a break. Tight and ridiculously talented, the Grand Scheme injected palpable energy into the show packed with adoring fans. Aloe & the Grand Scheme ran through most of Good Things so smoothly and quickly that the show was almost over before we knew it.
During "You Make Me Smile," Aloe told us if we were standing next to friends or lovers, to hold them close and yell out their name, because it's time to celebrate love and happiness. He ushered in all our love with arms outstretched, reminding us that love and happiness are the only two things we need in the world.
Aloe thrilled the crowd all night but it wasn't til the end, when he gave a tribute to Soul Train--the show that put black music on TVs all across America and, after 35 seasons, became the longest continuously airing first-run syndicated television program--that the party really got started. A fan of the show as a kid, he loved when the audience would do Soul Train line dance. He reminded us with a grin, "You didn't come here tonight to watch something--you came here to be part of something!" And with that, the crowd parted as Aloe broke down Sly & the Family Stone's "Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself."
The final blowout was Aloe's single about joblessness and desperation, "I Need A Dollar," clearly resonating with a lot of the audience. So many people tried to throw dollars up on the stage but fell short, though several ladies managed to push through the crowd and hand delivering their bills to Aloe, who piled them onto his mic stand, away from those who tried to pocket them.
Aloe left plenty of time for covers: "I Need A Dollar" blended smoothly into Hall & Oates' "Maneater" which turned into Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry" and then back to dub-infused "I Need A Dollar" outro. The Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale" made an appearance mid-set, and a slinky, bluesy rendition of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" was in the encore.
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He has the soul persona down pat. He's handsome like a young Sam Cooke and has moves like James Brown. Demonstrating live the vocal depth hinted at in his records, he hits high notes with ease of Mayfield and makes social and political comments like Gaye. Aloe gives us hope for modern soul and R&B.
2. Hey Brother
3. Hey Brother Reprise
4. You Make Me Smile
5. Femme Fatale
6. Green Lights
7. Good Things
8. Miss Fortune
9. If I
11. Soul Train
12. I Need A Dollar
1. Billie Jean
2. Loving You Is Killing Me