Concert Review: Aloe Blacc, Enmore Theatre

Seeing Aloe Blacc at the Enmore Theatre on January 4 was the meat in a musical sandwich of a week which started with Guy Sebastian, Pet Shop Boys, Jamiroquai and Culture Club on New Year’s Eve and concluded with Gurrumul, Washington and Manu Chao at the Domain. I’m here to tell you that Aloe Blacc can certainly hold his own with those other musical superstars.

I must offer my apologies to Maya Jupiter as we arrived midway through the Electric Empire set and missed her performance. But judging by her duet during the encore with Aloe, I’m sure she was great.

Locals Electric Empire were a fitting support act for Aloe Blacc. They played their “funked-up out-n-out feel good soul” to an appreciative audience. It felt like a time warp back to the golden era of soul as the crowd got down and funky on the dancefloor. They finished off with an impressive set of harmonies. The Aloe Blacc tour has raised Electric Empire’s profile they are currently sitting at number 3 in
the iTunes RnB Soul charts, which is great to see.

Aloe Blacc in concertThe lights went down and Aloe Blacc’s band, The Grand Scheme started to play the opening riff from Stevie Wonder’s Living for the City to excited applause from the crowd. The tension built and finally Aloe
came out, busting out a track and showing us why he has become a worldwide sensation.  He  introduced the band members which included a saxophone and trumpet player, who each played a solo. The keyboard
player gave us a sample of the theme song from Beverly Hills Cop, Axel F, adding to the sense of American pop culture nostalgia.

The Enmore Theatre was the perfect venue to witness Aloe’s smooth crooning. His powerful voice is even better live, and he effortlessly crosses different genres. He added to the entertainment value with
some funky soul dance moves to complement a vintage suit and waistcoat.

The band played many of the songs from the Good Things album, including Green Lights, Femme Fatale, Hey There Brother and Mama Hold My Hand. On Miss Fortune, which I had on high rotation on my iPod during a recent US holiday, a harpist joined the stage, adding to the atmospheric sound.

Aloe informed us that he got his start in hip hop, and rapped to one of his hip hop tracks, which was well received. For You Make Me Smile, he urged us to “hug the person next to you if they make you smile.”

When I Need a Dollar came on, the crowd went wild, singing and dancing along like there was no tomorrow. I happened to have a dollar note with me from my trip to the States, which my friend urged me to throw onstage. Aloe picked it up and showed it to the crowd, who laughed and cheered while simultaneously dancing.

For the encore, Aloe sang a soulful version of Billie Jean. I was wracking my brains wondering which song he hadn’t played yet, when
Loving You is Killing Me came on. The  catchy soul pop song was the perfect end to a great gig, and we all left on a high.

All in all a good time was had by all. I’d recommend anyone to catch Aloe Blacc when you get a chance.

Natalie Jane Cumming