Photos: Jamie Lidell at Metro

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 9, 2008 4:40PM

We admit we're still having a hard time forming a singular opinion about Jamie Lidell's show last night at Metro. We're justifiably cautious when it comes to British neo-soul singers -- hello Jamiroquai -- and what we say of Lidell's Lollapalooza set didn't exactly bowl us over. The advice of a trusted friend urging us to give him another chance in a smaller room led us to last night's show despite our reservations.

Lidell is of two minds live. On one level there is the performance of a more conventional soul-funk hybrid that veers from '70s smooth toward acid-jazz in regular intervals, bouyed by Lidell's Stevie Wonder-esque thenor. Lidell takes these templates onto the stage and revs them up with an incredibly kinetic backing band that sustain and inhuman level of energy throughout the show. These segments are best viewed as a soul revue, and for what it's worth Lidell delivers a rollicking good time to the fans.

Midway through the set Lidell takes command of the stage, sending the other musicians off, and creates soundscapes from loops he samples live. These constructs take pieces of hip-hop, soul, rock, and even rave techno, and blend them into a truly remarkable melange that is surprisingly complex while still keeping the majority of the crowd dancing in a mindless frenzy.

While we found the traditional band's performance enjoyable, we found this spectacle rather impressive. In fact we felt a little let down when the band re-entered the stage and the show resumed its regular footing. Try as they might throughout the rest of the evening -- and they certainly did their best to wring every ounce of power out of every song -- we thought Lidell was at his best when he was only using himself to create the music.

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