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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 1 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 44
Janelle Monae unleashes energetic Showbox set
Arts & Entertainment
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Janelle Monae unleashes energetic Showbox set

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

JANELLE MONAE
THE SHOWBOX SODO
October 30


There were a lot of sore feet going to work Thursday morning. Those who attended Janelle Monae's sold-out concert at The Showbox SoDo this week not only left the show with aching heels, but they probably had to hop in the shower when they got home. The performance was high-energy from start to finish, providing ample opportunity to dance.

The Kansas City native was introduced by a band member who simply told the audience, 'Miss Monae has come to funk you up,' then she was wheeled on stage and opened with 'Give 'Em What They Love,' a song that features Prince in the original cut. It was followed quickly with a zippy version of 'Dance Apocalyptic.' Dressed in a two-piece white suit with black collar and her signature retro, tucked-in hairstyle, Monae never stood still for more than a minute - she pranced from one end of the stage to the other for most of the 90-minute show. She removed the jacket early on and wore a crisp, short-sleeved white shirt with black suspenders.

Monae, a multiple Grammy nominee who fuses old-school soul, contemporary R&B, and funk, is a very exciting live act to watch. She's got so much energy, and sings and moves with so much enthusiasm and speed, that you lose track of where she's at half the time because she's all over the place. Her rendition of 'Q.U.E.E.N' was sassy and fun - not only did she sing Erykah Badu's part in addition to her own, but she also rapped at the end.

Supported by a full band, two backup singers and a pair of domino-shaped light fixtures, the talented musician delivered a slick, extended run-through of 'Electric Lady,' the title track from this year's critically praised album. A couple more numbers from the new record were also included on the set list, which surprisingly left out a lot of material from 2010's The ArchAndroid. Exhilarating was Monae's spirited version of the Jackson 5's 'I Want You Back'; fans inside the bar section, at the rear of The Showbox, boogied down feverishly. She attracted a diverse group of concertgoers, from young Gays and Lesbians to African-American straight couples to white hipsters.

'Tightrope' capped the main set, but Monae returned for a double encore that included a fantastic cover of Prince's 'Let's Go Crazy' and an extra-long rendition of 'Come Alive (The War of the Roses)' that found her asking the crowd for some vocal participation. 'What an Experience' closed it all out.

There's a huge difference between seeing Janelle Monae in concert and listening to her music through a set of speakers or earphones. She's much more lively in person, and everything she does (face gestures, poses, etc.) is beyond cool. It's no wonder she's become such a big star in just a few short years.

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