Saturday Night: Erykah Badu At Arena Theatre

Erykah Badu Arena Theatre May 21, 2011

Even if she never drops another album, Erykah Badu will still go down as one of the most important artists of our generation. Few can massage a neo-soul groove, seduce a jazz tune, and straddle a hip-hop beat the way she can.

On the same day Harold Camping and other doomsday believers predicted that God would send devastating earthquakes to destroy the Earth, those who hadn't been raised into a gaping sky convened at Arena Place to for a slice of Baduizm. If God had truly delayed the apocalypse to give humanity another shot at salvation, it probably served a good purpose Saturday night.

Badu's concert was as close to a religious experience as you could get.

Like the apocalypse, Badu is notorious for making fans wait. Imagine our surprise when a lady we met at Arena told us that Badu would go on at 8 p.m. We immediately tweeted that if Badu took the stage at 8 we would eat our head.

Luckily, we didn't have to resort to any sort of bizarre self-decapitation, as Badu's band graced the stage at 9:40 p.m. Still, there was no sign of the self-named "Analog Girl." Her band started playing the instrumental to "20 Feet Tall." The piano loop played over and over, still no sign of Badu.

ventually, the band lunged into a full-fledged jam session. "Wait, was that supposed to happen?" a gentleman in the crowd wondered. About ten minutes later, Badu emerged to a chorus of screams and yelps. She wore tight-fitting pants with tribal patterns and heels about 20 feet tall. She looked like a goddess.

The show built up slowly, with mellow tunes like "Green Eyes" and "On & On" leading the way. The real party-starter was the self-referential "Me," which had the crowd cheering at lines like "My ass and legs have gotten thick." She fed off the energy of the crowd the entire night. There was even a little tough love - when the audience didn't seem enthusiastic, she teased: "That's it, we're going home."

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Contact: Rizoh