He’s got a new album “Stone Rollin'” out, so it’s a welcome return for the former Tony! Toni! Tone! and Lucy Pearl man and his retro Soul stylings. His musical outlook is in some ways similar to those other two great retro acts who are around at the moment, Aloe Blacc and Eli “Paperboy” Reed and the Tru Loves.
His band is made up of drums, bass, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, keyboards and male and female background vocalists. Right from the off it’s soulful, funky and unashamedly retro, with the bands’ choreographed dance steps coming straight out of an episode of “Ready, Steady, Go”. In short, it’s like a modern day twist on something Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson or Smokey Robinson would have done. He plays songs from his Grammy nominated previous album “The way I see it” as well as most of the songs on the latest one, with “Radio” sounding particularly great (but that might be because it’s my favourite track on the new album).
He leads a very tight band, who get plenty of space to solo and show their individual skills. Everyone on stage is pretty nattily dressed, something else they have in common with Eli “Paperboy” Reed. It’s all a joyful throwback to the days of the Soul Revue, and when Raphael jumps down to the front row he’s instantly mobbed by his fans.
Another standout song is their extended version of “Good Man”. This was a recent single and features a long guitar solo reminiscent of Prince, no surprise as Raphael Saadiq was part of Prince’s band when he was in his 20’s.
After the main set, he dispenses with the sharp suit for the encore, returning to the stage in jeans, red T-shirt and floppy hat to sing “Over You” and “Go to Hell”. A perfect end to a show clocking in at around and hour and 45 minutes. A great set from a great artist. It will be interesting to see if he continues in this Soul Revue type mode for the next album.
Here’s one of my favourite songs off the new album.