I Just Wanna Go Back: D'Angelo and The Vanguard Live at Club Nokia 6/8/15
D’Angelo and The Vanguard: Live At Club Nokia, June 8th, 2015
(By Matt Koelling originally Published on Okayplayer.com as Bombastic on June 9, 2015)
I found out about an hour before show time that a dear friend of 35 years had passed away. One of three brothers that grew up down the street from me in South Jersey that I've known since age 3, from a family I spend Christmas Eve with after church every year to this day and whose family house is the perfect buzzed-up trudge home in the snow around the time Christmas Eve is turning into Christmas morning.
Maintenance found my man's body in his hotel room in Brooklyn while out there on business and no one's really sure what happened but if we did what difference would it make anyway, the bottom line is he's gone while the rest of us somehow have to keep on.
Shit had me blown, couldn't eat dinner, didn't know what to do with myself, wasn't sure who to even call to talk to about it because I didn't want to start calling east-coast people with horrific news at 11 PM EST on a Monday night, was sitting on the edge of my bed in my apartment in Santa Monica driving myself crazy thinking maybe I needed to just try going to bed or laying down to watch a movie but instead just finally said "fuck this, I gotta go see D".
Seemed like the only thing that might be able to help soothe the soul at that point was some musical deliverance, already had tickets for a later show on this tour with people so had missed my window to cop these.
SeatGeek App wasn't giving me any love either so I just went to the liquor store up the street from me, copped a power bar, a lemonade and the $80 dollar max cash-back from the register and hopped in my car playing Black Messiah figuring I would rely on concert karma.....if I made the trek, I would get in somehow.
Parked at LA Live just shy of 9:30, went to the Will Call booth downstairs and asked the people working it if any seats had been late-released for sale, they said no.
I asked if D was on already, they said yeah it'd been about a half hour.
Said thanks anyway, started walking to find a scalper when another girl overhearing said "no, he's actually just getting ready to go on now and there is a few GA seats for sale at the box office".
Booked upstairs to the box office, copped a GA floor seat for $75, walked in just as the band was building the intro and found my spot by Kendra's side of the stage just as D emerged to open up with "Ain't That Easy".
This was where I needed to be last night. The band was so fucking incredible and my own sober-but-shocked headspace was in such a strange is-this-shit-all-real state that this music had me levitating.
Little chunks of lyrics started taking on different tones its authors probably hadn't intended considering the context:
"you can't leave me, it ain't that easy, to walk away, when I want you to stay"
"I just wanna go back, back to the way it was now-now-nah"
and of course "Another Life" which I had no idea had been added to the set but remains my favorite song on the album.
It would have been the perfect date-night D set considering most of the songs on the menu were the ones mostly related to some form of love and/or lust.....but as for me making a last minute decision to join the fray dolo, the music made for a fine date in its own right and the spiritual side of the songs really showed thru, culminating in the "Untitled" finale which took on its own thing.
D looked so alive and present, he might even be getting that video frame back a bit, not that I was really checking.
At one point he was rocking some kind of Black-Moses/George-Clinton type of church robe while directing traffic up front and it was just witnessing an artist in full command of his powers.
This did not feel like no knock-off act.
This band didn't feel like they were just putting themselves thru the paces of recreating JB's Tami Show or P's Parade Tour.
This was their thing and it was all of ours there sharing it with them too.
At times I musta looked half-crazy for anyone dumb enough to be paying attention to me instead of D, was definitely welling up a bit during "Another Life" but with a smile on my face.
Jesse was of course great, Pino was Pino but to me the standout of the show besides the obvious was Kendra Foster.
That girl is a star.
Maybe it was slightly affected by her being the closest one to me but it was hard to take my eyes off her and she never stopped moving the entire night.
Much thanks to D and the whole Vanguard for not only one of the best shows I've seen in years but one of the most crucial on a personal level in the wake of some horrible shit.
I Just Wanna Go Back.
Aint That Easy
Betray My Heart
Star Of The Story (Heatwave Cover)
Back To The Future
Left & Right
‘Til It’s Done (Tutu)
Untitled (How Does It Feel)