I'll be the first to admit it: I'm cynical about R&B shows. Too often it's a bunch of love drunk couples slow writhing under dark lighting and not enough bass for my hip-hop heart. But last night at City Hall, soul champion Musiq Soulchild brought down the house with his band and an energetic stage show. The show's opener, Justin Matthews kicked things off with a full band, bringing a super sexy vibe to the evening right away. I've never seen him perform before, and his voice was supreme and his presence on stage was impressive. There were definitely a few church choir swelling moments from his back up singers and the call and response with the crowd had party-goers in the palm of his hands. The show moved along at a pretty steady pace, Matthews went on right around 8:30 p.m. and pretty much sang the roof off the place, making way for the DJ to spin some tunes and get the crowd warmed up for the Philly-based headliner.
Once Musiq came on, with the lights blazing, backed by a dazzling band dressed in all white and he in all black, the audience went nuts, and he got right down to business, performing all the classics, like "Just Friends." The song is already so sweet it's toothache-inducing, but the live version, combined with the crowd response, was over the top. "Love" hit another sweet spot, as did several joints from his new album, which he performed with gusto, while "Buddy" had everybody dancing.
Musiq did a good bit of talking in between songs, and even during songs, which was a bit of distraction at times in some places more than others. City Hall is huge, and there were a ton of people in the place, so intimate discussions sometimes get lost. Overall, Musiq sang his freaking heart out for an appreciative Denver crowd who chanted his name and demanded an encore. Again, while R&B shows can be hit or miss for me, Musiq Soulchild nailed it in one of the most impressive shows I've experienced at City Hall to date.
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Personal Bias: Having not seen Musiq live before, I didn't know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised with his dynamism. Random Detail: I saw KDJ Above watching the show from a quiet place in the back of the entirely packed room. By the Way: Park Hill was definitely in the building. On the receiving end of a shout-out from Justin Matthews, the entire place erupted in cheers.