ACL Live Shots
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Oct. 9, 2009
Raphael SaadiqOct. 2, Zilker Park
Retro's one thing, embodiment quite another. Raphael Saadiq's third solo album, 2008's triple Grammy-nominated Sony disc The Way I See It, cooked up 1960s Motown, 1970s "T.S.O.P. (The Sound of Philadelphia)," and 1980s and 1990s Tony Toni Toné. As lead singer of R&B's tony boy toys (!), Oakland's former Charles Wiggins reworked the Motor City etiquette manual on the Sound of Young America. Friday, the moment he tossed away his Buddy Holly glasses and took off his tie and the jacket of his black suit – the same stage attire worn by the other seven male members of his band – might as well have been the moment Marvin Gaye stopped trying to be Sam Cooke. Delivering "Keep Marching" and "Love That Girl," Saadiq sang like the former while inhabiting the sheer physicality of the latter. On Silk's "Wanna Get Freaky With You," his Luther Vandross rubbed up against the En Vogue of his sole female frontline harmonizer, flanking Saadiq on the other side of a doppelgänger of sole Temptations survivor Otis Williams. The musicians, meanwhile, doubled as the Funk Brothers – James Jamerson, Earl Van Dyke, et al. That explains the Stooges' cover "Search & Destroy" evoking another version of Detroit. "Sure Hope You Mean It," missing perhaps only Tammi Terrell, went over better, as did "Staying in Love." Then Saadiq strapped on a guitar and took his astonished audience to the "Big Easy" with the help of his two-man horn section, Stax strut meeting New Orleans undulation meeting an Ernie Isley guitar solo from one of the Funk Brothers. Voice, songs, stallion charisma; lose the glasses.