Live Review: The Many Faces of Jamie Lidell
Every show has one. A super fan. That person in the audience who stands apart from the head-nodding, iPhone-checking masses. At electro funkster Jamie Lidell's Troubadour show with Minnesota synth poppers Solid Gold, there wasn't just one super fan, there were two.
Lidell could see them, that pair of superfans standing up in the Troubadour's balcony: a couple of 50 somethings with their arms raised to the heavens and eyes closed. They knew every word, every cadence, swell and drop blasting from Lidell's powerful pipes.
The woman shook her blondish hair, the scarf around her neck swayed to the schoolhouse rock of "Enough's Enough," a Jackson 5 shoutout from Lidell's upcoming album, Compass. The man, a younger, more polished Joe Biden, beamed, clapped and laid down backup vocals to the sunny-pop, sitcomlike jangle of "Another Day," whether Lidell liked it or not. But Lidell loved it, reaching his hand out to them. After all, this is Lidell's goal: reach out to the audience and hold them in the palm of his hand.
Lidell is well known for his flailing, sweating, lung busting live shows, where he not only delivers his signature brand of funk to the audience, but he encourages and nearly demands the audience to participate. At certain moments of the show, he will stand alone on stage--the band is off getting beers, or juice-boxes or whatever--and Lidell will lay down soulful grooves that depend on the audience to backup. Like the cool choir teacher in high school, he gets sound from the most hip of the hipsters. But for the super fan, singing along to the joy-filled anthems of Lidell takes very little coaxing.
For the most part, his first L.A. show in years was a success. The audience grooved to the familiar Motown brushed "Multiply," and agreed that "This ain't no way to be/ Stuck between my shadow and me."
His sonically schizophrenic style showcased the many sides to his sound. Nearly all of his mixed bag of musical genres reared their heads, electro, rock, soul, blues, and pop, sometimes all within the same song.
Yet, Lidell's diverse sound does not come without a price. Not everyone is going to like everything. Lidell's thowback soul jams and gospel sing-a-longs are ubiquitously danceable, but his electo-one-man-raves are not for everyone.
The superfans sat down and took a breather during the section where Lidell performed solo, just the man, his voice and a looping device. But a small group of electro fans near the front of the stage-- who had likely witnessed Lidell's earliest tours, before he had a band and just Lidell, some devices and a mic stand (which often held his trench coat) populated the stage-- the beatbox-based jams were Lidell at his finest. He built a song one piece at a time. A low tone would become the bassdrum, an inhale the hi-hat, then Lidell's layered soulful wails filled out his choir of one.
He teased the audience with snippets of "A Little Bit More," and joked that his spread of laptops, snarled wires and mechanical boxes was all new to him. Just his second show of the tour, a few technical and rhythmical hiccups showed up, but nothing the ever-charming Lidell couldn't handle with ease.
When the band returned, they ended the set with a new side to Lidell: punk. Well, not exactly mosh-pit fodder, but punk for Lidell means the quick snares, fuzzed out guitars and distorted vocals of "Are You Waking," from Compass. The super fans rocked it, the electro enthusiasts raved it, proving that Lidell can sing his way out of whatever box he's put in.