By: Nydja Hood
The Queen of Neo-Soul graced the Dell stage and nothing less than royalty was expected from her presence that night. On Thursday August 10, Erykah Badu shared the stage with Ro James, for arguably one of the most highly-anticipated concerts of the summer 2017 season.
The Dell was a melting pot in itself, with its most diverse crowd of the whole season thus far. What typically is a venue that attracts a crowd of older black folks, had became a home to younger and older music lovers of all races, and it was truly a unique Dell experience.
Although there wasn’t an empty seat in the house, everyone was on their feet regardless for a show that kept everyone out of their seats.
Ro James opened the show war ready with camo overalls and black combat boots. He performed songs off his latest album El Dorado, that he said was inspired by his first car. He declared that consent is ‘sexy’ before transitioning into a performance of his signature hit “Permission.” As he made his way into the crowd the audience definitely seemed to favor the track in particular that became a trademark to his name. He made his way up and down the aisles serenading some of the fans and finished his set strong.
You could tangibly feel the suspense in the atmosphere leading up to Badu’s performance. DJ Gary O spinned the tunes as usual to get the crowd rallied up before she graced the stage. Jay Z’s “Give It 2 Me” seemed like a perfect fit and when Gary O exclaimed “It’s about to go down,” the crowd concurred.
Badu’s band played an instrumental rendition of “You Caint Use My Phone” from her 2015 mix tape of the same name as the audience awaited her arrival. When she finally made her grand entrance she made it known that she was well worth the hype. She waltzed onto center stage with an all black outfit and white cloak, a tall black hat, and a gold Merkabah that crowned her head. Badu made it known that every aspect of her stage presence had a spiritual significance behind it. The Merkabah, also known as the ‘vehicle of light’, is used to connect with the “Higher Power,” integrating the mind and spirit, setting the tone for the rest of her set.
Badu kicked off her performance with none other than “Hello,” and transitioned into several other songs that the crowd definitely seemed to vibe with. Let it be known Badu fans are unlike any other, and midway through her set, one bold fan made her way to the front of the venue and requested the singer performed two hits in particular; “Bag Lady” and “Next Lifetime.” Taken aback by the fearless act the singer obliged, and the fans certainly were not disappointed. The requests were clearly in good taste because the energy in the crowd was exhilarating as they enthusiastically swarmed the stage and sang along, reaching for Badu’s hand. She made sure to vibe with as many fans on a personal basis as possible, grasping nearly every hand within her reach and serenading as many people as she could. Badu performed “Tyrone” for the grand finale, in a special arrangement that left the fans anxiously craving more.