The older Raphael Saadiq gets, the more he seems to go back in time. The man who was at the forefront of the New Jack Swing movement with Tony! Toni! Tone! back in the late 1980s has taken a more soulful Motown style as of late, case in point his newest album, The Way I See It.
Friday afternoon's show at Lollapalooza had much of the same approach, as he played some of his new work before "takin' it back some" with his familiar favorites.
No matter what era, he's here to entertain. Backed by a band numbering nearly a dozen deep, all clad in matching crisp, dark suits, Saadiq concurrently played the role of lead singer, conductor, dancer, and crowd riler. When he sang "Keep on runnin'," he punctuated the lyrics by running in place.
But it's hard to keep a good soul singer down, and Saadiq didn't waste any time getting into some music made for lovin'. Strapping on a bass - and stripping down to just an undershirt - Saadiq croons, "Kissin' you is not enough ... Makin' love is what I want to do." And, from the look on his face (accentuated by the big screen behind him) you know he means it.
There was no time for getting smitten, as moments later a rendition of "Fallin' In Love" reminds us that "Fallin' in love is easy/Stayin' in love can be tricky."
Winding down the set, Saadiq went old school (or would it be new school compared to the Motown-heavy set?) with a medley from his TTT days that included radio-friendly hit "Feels Good," followed by Saadiq asking, "Can you feel me, Chicago? I can feel you, too."
Oh, we feel you. We feel you real good.
Didn't see him at Lolla? Check out Saadiq's show tonight at Kingsbury Hall/The Vibe.