See D'Angelo x Gary Clark, Jr.'s Legendary Forest Hills Performance Through The Eyes Of Greg Tate, Nelson George + More [Photos & Recap]
Photos by Victoria Ford for Sneakshot/Okayplayer.
D’Angelo & The Funk Mob, err, The Vanguard fought off wind, heat and every other debilitating element under the sun to make their way to Forest Hills, Queens this past weekend, performing for a packed and overjoyed crowd. The night was a true victory lap for a tour which kicked off one borough to the left at the legendary Apollo Theatre, displaying The Vanguard in musical form as muscular as their frontman was in physical and clearly both have been operating “at threshold” as they delivered physically exhausting, spiritually moving, multi-ovation sessions from coast to coast.
The night began with some booming arena soul from Melbourne’s Meg Mac, preceded by a scorching set from millennial bluesman Gary Clark, Jr. But it’s hard to argue that D was the one we were waiting for all those hours under the summer sun (and torrential rain) for. And despite the day’s threatening downpour(s), the sky kept clear for all of D’Angelo’s set, and under a thumbnail moon the Black Messiah proved to be at the height of his powers. Those screams, yelps and bellows–the controlled chaos of r&b’s finest modern artist–overflowed the concourses of Forest Hills Stadium. There might be something out there, in 2015, as good as D’Angelo, but we defy you to find anything better.
It being New York and this being a D’Angelo show, there was an unusually high ratio of people who really know music–profesionally, even– so, instead of gushing over the greatness that is D’s live show again, we figured we’d let some well-respected journalists and musicians that we look to as authorities to tell the show’s tale from their own vantage point(s). Below you will find reactions from Greg Tate, Ant Demby and even a few words from OKP’s favorite novelist and cultural critic Nelson George, painting a picture of a night few will forget and even fewer will live down.
“When has The Church or This Kulcha not been an openly vulnerable haven for anyfool who shows up in spiritual crisis? An overly abundant generosity of spirit Black Love becoming Like Jesus. Refusing to be diminished by piracy, lunacy or American atrocity. Your pagan nationalist ass doesnt have to ”get it” to know enduringly faithful Grandmas are the only reason any of us are still here–your true believers, your blues weavers and your self-decievers alike. Last night the chu’ch of D’Angelo reminded us that stripped to its funk-drooling sanctified core, Universal Love remains The Message of That Tragic Magic, The Music. A Love Supreme indeed. A baptismal flood of gifting in actuality. And unlike Billie’s faucet, some cats can’t just turn it on and off once they get to wholly rolling.”
“Untitled” I honestly have no words for. The way he dangles the carrot in front of us by approaching the mic and backing away is crazy and what is more is amazing is that you can tell that he is feeling it collectively with us. The three part harmonies at the end are infused with such emotion that is almost hard to handle and the way the band leaves one by one to where there is just D on stage is the best climax to end a show I have ever seen. I remember him doing that on the Voodoo tour and I never forgot that moment and that was over a decade ago.
“With D’Angelo after his amazing Second Coming tour in Forest Hills. My 3rd time seeing this tour and it’s smoother, tighter, more polished every time, blending elements of Prince, Parliament/Funkadelic, James Brown and his own style.”