Some people are impossible to please.

During the encore chant at D’Angelo’s second London performance, a group of middle-aged men objected to the apparent regurgitation of old material. But in the same crowd I met people who had flown from New York to hear the “Chicken Grease” guitar lick for the first time in ten years. And while only two new songs made an appearance this was far from a recital of his two-album catalog. Drunk on funk and psychedelia the almost 2 1/2 set was a journey through black music. Jesse Johnson in a white-feathered hat – having rejoined the tour in Paris – channeled Jimi Hendrix through a 20-minute version of “Sh*t, Damn, Motherf*cker. D displayed newfound chops on the guitar that were more than worthy of a brief blues solo. James Brown was omnipresent all night. And D’Angelo makes no secret about the influence of Prince – especially on the new tracks “Charade” and “Sugar Daddy” (watch after the jump).

But the renditions of his now proven timeless material were in no way derivatives of these musical influences; D’Angelo stamped his personality all over the stage and the music. He performed with humor, sexuality and honesty and appeared profoundly happy to be back on stage. He smiled and laughed throughout the night.

But the fickle fans persisted. As we walked out of the Brixton Academy into a snowy London night, a young lady complained that D’Angelo needs to “get his body back.” But the wails of ecstasy from the rest of the women in the crowd as he slowly stripped back to a scant singlet–barely concealing a body that looked ready to compete in the Superbowl, confirmed that D still has the sexual potency of a pornstar. A woman next to me cried.

I have never seen a crowd so excited or bewitched by a performance. He had the audience laughing, couples were grinding and whispering in ears, and nearly everyone smiled throughout the show. The crowd’s favorite moment was when D’Angelo was left alone on stage with his piano. He crooned through “Brown Sugar”; “Jonz in my Bonz”; “Cruisin”; and “Untitled.” His voice was perfect. He can still beautifully mumble his was through the low end, his upper octaves were flawless and he screamed in perfect pitch all night.

D’s biggest smile, on the other hand, came when he conducted a gorgeous piece of audience participation. During the chorus of “Brown Sugar,” the men sang the hook, while the women provided the falsetto reprise.

This was a man who was back where he belonged. ?uestlove spoke of his anxiety about releasing the forthcoming album, journalists covering the tour have spoken of D’Angelo’s shyness and he hasn’t done a single interview. But on stage he is supremely comfortable.

Was it worth the wait for the fans? The tales of addiction and self-doubt have invested incredulity in a once unshakeable support base. But despite the doubters, if he continues to perform on that level–and new songs of that caliber continue to surface, the skeptics will be inaudible over the music.

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Comments

  • Chocolate.

    :((((!!! Why did they put EYEliner on D?, what’s that about?

  • Greg

    shame i didnt see him do the Ziggy Stardust cover like he did in paris when i went saw that on youtube was incredible

  • the beat digger

    i was at this show, and as a huge d’angelo fan i had waited a number of years to see the legend and a lot of fear/excitement to see how good he would be. my conclusion…..the guy is talented to a whole next level, actually talented isnt the word im looking for, gifted is the word im looking for. amazing show, amazing talent, im just glad i can say i have seen the “r’n'b jesus” and he exceeded my expectations. d’angelo – you’re a living legend my brother

  • loprimo

    The dude is back!!

  • soulmindz

    I WAS at paris/Zénith! It was AAwsome! HE was AMAZING! HE’S BACK 4 fu*k*n’real trust me!
    He just keeps real soul/funky alive! in our generation, he is the only one who does music the way he did in 2000 and, still the only one in 2012, mo…re in live, he is a real showman!!! I saw him trust me, he is really back!!!
    His voice and his talent is better than never!!!
    Watch all the paris/Zénith live songs on Youtube (better quality than Stockholm), it’s Awsome!!! so YES we want to hear this New album!!!
    Thank U D’!!! We missed U sooooo much and, most important, MUSIC missed U!!! Music need rare people like You, U heeeeeear?!? :)
    We lost amy, but this year, we find D’angelo again!!! Hope the futur still lightin’ in a positive way for him! like it or not, this is real music, nothing else!
    “Untilted” Live – Paris Zénith (29.01.21012): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xs_2JKTHYJU&feature=related
    *NEW* Song:
    … It’s just a pure BOMB! Back in the 20′s original blues piano rythm loops! Real Funky Music!
    “Suggar daddy” (Live @ Zénith Paris) [2012-01-29]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMS3pEIxDZo

  • Emil

    Does anybody know what’s wrong with D? I had tickets for his show in Hamburg at the 09. february and it was canceled because he fel of the stage before his 2. show in Amsterdam?! Is that right? I was so f… excited to see the show and then… Its not that I did not expect that the show was going to be canceled, but I’m pretty mad about that s…

  • Omar

    F*****g DOPE!!! His wallet? It’s the one that says “badmotherf***er” on it!!!
    Can’t wait for him to hit the states!

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  • SennHeiser

    Saw him last time twice @ Paradiso Amsterdam, it was awesome, he murdered the stage, D waa totally off the hook, right back on track … These gigs where extremely good. Waited for so many years after I saw him @ NSJ the Hague 2000 with the Soultronics that was 4 me a legendary performance …

  • i don’t know

    somebody get him a stylist please otherwise I just can’t watch this. You can’t hear the vocals anyway.

  • Mila

    His body looks good to me. He is grown man now. There are not many men his age that look as good as he does. I love him I can’t wait for the album, tour and everything. I’m really excited. I love him. I love that he has not changed. These little kids need to know who he is for who he is and not what the industry thinks he should be.

    • Lilie

      To Mila! Exactly. I would even add that many younger men would dream to look HALF as good as he does. Geez people are so shallow and judgemental and miss the whole point of the gift he’s sharing with us. As far as I know he doesn’t owe any of us anything so for the haters out there making “noise”, shut up and let us listen, coz we sure can recognize good music and infinite talent when we hear it.

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  • Lilie

    OH Gawwd! Really? Haters will be haters. Who cares about the eyeliner? It’s about real music and he brought it with raw emotions and flawless souful vocals like he always has. If you can’t hear it, then you will never hear anything!! I can’t wait to see him as many times as I can when he comes to the States.

    • dimples

      Big up to all D supporters! I live in London but was unable to attend the shows! Gutted! If I remember rightly it was the nasty little image obsessive unappreciative cretins with no self control who drove him away in the first place. smh! I must admit, when I saw the youtube footage of the Brixton shows my initial thought was, “Really? You really going back there with your semi-naked self D?” I was afraid for him and half expected a barrage of flying knickers (that would have taken funk to a whole different level)! But seriously, in my humble opinion the difference between then and now is Mr Archer is older, wiser, knows what to expect and he’s in control. Seriously, how many of us look exactly the same as we did 11/12 yrs ago? If you do there’s some nasty looking portraits being hidden away! I don’t care how Mr Archer looks as long as his voice doesn’t part with his body anytime soon! He’s only interested in putting out dope music (his words) and I for one love and respect that he’s carrying the baton for those who went before him. He’s certainly influenced me in listening to different genres of music. In numerology terms he’s a No.7, some believe it’s God’s number (insignificant to non-believers, I know). However, my point is he was born to perform and he got genius! You only have to look at the calibre of musicians around him to know – they want to be a part of his-story! I love you Mr Archer! oh, and I love Quest too. Blessup!!!