D’Angelo‘s week-long NYC takeover began this evening as he and The Vanguard cast their funky spell over studio 8H in his Saturday Night Live debut. On his full desperado-of-soul game garbed in sash and cap, D lead a funk mob (Pino, Sharky, Kendra Foster, John Blackwell, Jesse Johnson and a three-piece string section) with fire in their eyes as they commenced their SNL debut with Black Messiah’s honeyed A-side closer “Really Love,” giving Sharky some room to breathe on a lush vamp at the end of their studio-perfect live take. D freaks the falsetto, leaving no heart string untouched.
Once the crew reemerges, they do so in (OKP supplied) tees emblazoned with the “I Can’t Breathe” and “Black Lives Matter” creeds to deliver what is perhaps Black Messiah‘s most bittersweet treat in “The Charade.” D’s vocal once again shines, squalling furiously while the band gives an electric live and direct treatment of the anthemic and powerful cut. All of this played out against a mock-up of Grand Central Station, where die-in protest have been banned for two weeks now. If anything can be taken from this evening’s unveiling of the new live show and roster, it’s that the several-hundred-dollar tickets for D’s headlining show at the Apollo next weekend will be well worth the hit to your wallet and promise entry to an experience every damn bit as historic as it sounds. If you managed to cop your ticket in the .0000003 seconds that they were available, bless your heart. The rest of us will just have to make due with these magical musical moments from the studio that Lorne built. Watch D’Angelo & The Vanguard perform “Really Love” and “Charade” on their SNL debut below. Hopefully you’re all paying attention now.