I’m going to kick off my series of Bonnaroo 2012 coverage here today with easily the most wonderful “surprise” show I could ever even ask to witness in person. After the Red Hot Chili Peppers finished up their main stage set I headed over to the annual Super Jam, which usually consists of a few mystery guests every year. All I knew was that ?uestlove of The Roots was laying down the beat with some special guests.
?uest came out to greet the crowd and introduced the band one by one. I’m not going to pretend I know and/or am familiar with most of the band, but once ?uest announced the legendary Pino Palladino as the bass player for the night I officially got my hopes up that D’Angelo would join in for the evening – given that ?uestlove and Pino were the primary rhythm section on (really, one of the best albums of all time, forget just soul!) Voodoo. Among a few others, rounding out the band was Kirk Douglas of The Roots and Jesse Johnson of The Time, Prince’s former backing band.
Finally, ?uest proclaimed “I’ve been waiting 12 years for this…” and called out D’Angelo to the stage. I was probably 500 feet back from the stage and let out a scream of joy and fought my way as close to the stage as I could. The announcement didn’t quite register the crazed reaction of the rest of the crowd I would have hoped for, but still – this was D’angelo’s first US show in over 12 years. Quite an event, especially when it drops from the sky before your very eyes.
The band cranked out all covers, and no D’Angelo tracks were played aside from a very brief verse from Voodoo’s “Chicken Grease”. As I watched D’Angelo on the keys, I really couldn’t believe my eyes that he was right there singing in front of me. Moving from Led Zeppelin and Sly and the Family Stone, D’Angelo absolutely owned the stage as he moved back and forth from the keys and guitar.
The guy has not lost a beat – he sounded just as masterfully soulful as he ever did on record and seemed to be immensely enjoying himself whilst flashing a million dollar smile throughout the night. As I hoped and prayed that they might play “One ‘Mo Gin” or “Untitled “(How Does It Feel), they closed out the show with an extended cover of The Beatles’ “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window”.
The crowd chanted for more, but ?uestlove was gracious enough to come back out and inform us that they literally had no other songs and that they had put this performance together in a matter of 6 hours. Needless to say, I have the highest of hopes that D’Angelo plays a full U.S. tour and eventually releases the long awaited James River LP this year. Judging by Saturday’s performance, everything is in its right place for that to happen. D’Angelo fans, I think its time to officially get your hopes up…
P.S. – THANK YOU ?UESTLOVE