“Performs like a soulful Iggy Pop…with back pain (in a good way)” – that is what the notes say; they do not lie.
The scribbles jotted down in this rowdy and sweaty gig also describe the main man as an utterly entrancing, pocket dynamo – if anything that understates what a magnetic stage presence the whirling dervish that is Anderson .Paak: darting this way and that, (inevitably) ending up in the crowd itself, slipping effortlessly between heavy hip hop, funk, to sleek but organic soul – this guy is something else and the enthusiastic throng lap up every second of this raucous affair.
Paak brings a genre-hopping charisma to the stage that is relatively unusual these days: although the signs are there when, in addition to a DJ, the early forays into excellent but pretty straight up hip hop are accompanied by a (very tight) live band – The Free Nationals – it’s nevertheless a thrill when he suddenly leaps onto a drum kit and batters seven shades out of it, all the while still throwing out tight as you like rhymes without missing a beat.
Added to that, we flirt with jazz, vocoder action from the madman on keyboards and basslines that threaten to topple over the speaker stack – it’s bloody impressive and from 30 seconds in, impossible not to be swept up in: the sort of barely controlled alchemic grooves that George Clinton et al used to specialise in, but (obviously) far more modern and, crucially, far more urban – not so much of the funk aliens tonight.
Not entirely sure what he’s singing about, to be honest, it’s not that sort of night – though, “If nobody loves you…I love you“, brings a cheery roar from the bouncing mass down the front: as the notes say, “What a nice fellow“: it’s positive and uplifting throughout.
Whilst watching his rigid-backed, aggressive stalking around the stage, slamming himself and sticks into the groove, it’s notable how at ease with the fans and how happy to be on stage both he and the other four musicians are; by the sweaty denouement, all participants look genuinely delighted by what is a memorable night.
And what an ending it is: ‘Miss Right’ is minimal, chic and far more brooding than on record – the undoubted highlight of the evening.
From there we’re into the sunny positivity of ‘Am I Wrong?’ with its good time vibes: almost the better parts of Fresh Prince, but with a damned sight more attitude and credibility: back onto the drums for some more percussive abuse and half sung, half-rapped vocals in a manner that almost recalls Prince.
Entirely wonderful and, whilst not as chic as the preceding tune, we nonetheless batter into 20 seconds of the Niles Rodgers-produced ‘Let’s Dance’ by Bowie.
And it’s over.
This lad is a prodigious talent: the real deal and anyone with any interest in music, regardless of genre, would appreciate what goes down as an unplanned for classic.
See them, see him, excellent.
Words: Vosne Malconsorts
Photos: Thomas Ritchie