Arrested Development @ B.B. Kings (07.27.10)
There are shows you attend because you want to see remarkable musicians manipulate their instruments and bring innovation and something new to the musical tables. Then there are shows one goes to see to be slammed against the wall with nostalgia. You already know every note, every lyrics and you just want to hear everything familiar. Tonight, I would be seeing Arrested Development perform at B.B. King’s Blues Club & Grill in Times Square. Tonight…it was all about nostalgic progressive hippie-rap.
Touring mainly over seas since getting back together in 2000, Arrested Development hasn’t been in our neck of the words for some time. However, it didn’t take them long to make their second rounds on the American musical community. With the release of their new album, Strong, and holding top-10 positions on International music charts, they are proving that a positive message, no matter when delivered, is relevant at any age!
Their albums speak of political issues, ethical dilemmas, they celebrate feminism and masculinity and project mounting peace and love in an overwhelming society fueled by negativity. My Arrested Development albums were literally some of the first Cds (other then my Grateful Dead Cds) to be played out. Arrested Development was also my first introduction to hip-hop. I was immediately listening to beats that I normally would not have been hearing had I only listened to my Grateful Dead or Allman Brothers Band cds. This was all around 1993 when I was 13 years old so….I heard them, listened to them, and started researching their influences. I remember being very shocked at the contrast in gansta rap bein’ spit by Dr. Dre vs. the positive lecturing by Speech in the Arrested Development tracks.
We walked in during We Rad, We Doin’ It. A harmonic, danceable song with the messages of Peace and Love, with sections of One Love inserting his DJ rapping intelligence in the middle. With a tambourine and a hard rock guitar throughout, Speech gave us the message: “I Get Up / I Keep Going / I Get Over It.” One song in and the stage was already bouncing and the dance floor was already bumpin’.
And right into what might be my new favorite Arrested Development tune. The World is Changing. SO HAPPY, motivationally charged in the music, I couldn’t help but just dance all over the front row with the audience. The members on stage were just as energized. I was lucky enough to be in standing in front of Montsho Eshe. Upon her introduction, Speech mentioned that she had been with the group since she was 13 years old. AND HOLY CRAP! That woman has some dancing raging energy. With someone dancing in front of you like that, and the bass pumping like that, do you blame me for not taking notes or good videos? See…..
One of the things I noticed immediately was that the front row was filled with drunk young faces. With my research showing that the average audience age for Arrested Development being in the 21-25, it is clear that they have been rediscovered by the younger generation as I was in my teenage years when they were influencing my life back in the 90’s. That stat was CLEARLY reflected in the drunk (possibly 21??) sloppies who were falling into themselves, other audience members, the stage and trying with all their might to touch their idols hands and feet. Luckily, I had an unlucky buffer by way of a 6’2 African American woman who was clearly trying to remain calm and enjoy her show while remaining upright from being drunkenly danced into. I felt bad for her but happy that they were not bumping into me.
The vibrantly dressed group proceeded to play all the wonderful nostalgic tunes I came to see: Tennessee, Mr Wendal, People Everyday. The audience continued to shout out the names of these songs until they were played. From their new album, Strong, they performed We Rad, We Doin’ It, LA LA LA, The World is Changing, Bloody and Haters.
LA LA LA is a more sexy, soulful, loungy songs in the repertoire that incorporates some really great voice manipulations, Afrocentric beats and Speech spittin’ his lyrics. Bloody gave us a more deep, heavy, reggea-ish vibe fueled by issues of genocide and the deconstruction of souls. It sounded like a song to march into battle with…Militaristic for a reason, with it’s politically charged lyrics. I suppose I hit the nail on the head as I have just found the video and see it playing out my description…check out the video…what a message:
The strongly spiritually charged Tennessee, Mr. Wendal and Everyday People just BROUGHT DOWN THE HOUSE. I was thrown back into high school dances and the entire night was exactly what I wanted and expected. They presented us with a ton of their new material but also balanced their set list with all the songs that brought us to the stage that night in the first place. If you ever enjoyed their music, check them out.
Proposed Set list from stage list: Rock Intro, We Rad We Doin’ It, Motivational, LA La La, World is Changing, Fishin’ For Religion, Dawn Of Dreads, Bloody, Easy My Mind, Africa’s Inside Me, Tennessee, Wet Your Voice, Haters, Inner City, Mr. Wendal, Freestyle, I Got the Feelin’, Honeymoon Day, Raining Rev, Redemption, Miracles, I’m Bad, Mama’s, People Everday.
Actual Set list: Rock Intro, We Rad We Doin’ It, The World Is Changing, Fishin’ For Religion, Dawn of Dreads, Bloody, Ease Mind, Africa’s Inside Me, Tennessee, Wet Your Voice, Haters, Mr. Wendal, Freestyle Drummer rage, Inner City, Redemption, Mama’s, Everyday People.