- Mary J. Blige and D'Angelo
- September 7, the Pearl
Concert legend has it that Led Zeppelin once drew such a rapturous response from a crowd, scheduled headliner Iron Butterfly fled the venue, never to be heard from again. Someone should have told that story to Mary J. Blige.
The R&B singer brought neo-soul man D’Angelo along for this summer’s Liberation Tour, and Friday night at the Pearl the experiment produced predictable results. Even heavily armed with radio hits and stylish screen visuals, Blige couldn’t match firepower with a returning recluse who hasn’t released new music in more than a decade. The 38-year-old D’Angelo might not possess the effortless falsetto or the ripped muscles of the 25-year-old version, but his live show lived up to its legend, on the strength of a funky good-time groove in the James Brown/Sly Stone/Prince tradition.
Flanked by a crack 10-piece ensemble, D’Angelo was himself a whirlwind of activity—singing, bouncing between guitar and keys, debuting new tunes from the looong-awaited follow-up to 2000’s Voodoo, even backing away from his instrument during smash song “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” to ramp up the drama. Then it was Mary J.’s turn. Maybe she should’ve encored with “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.”