Aloe Blacc almost sounds like he is in the wrong decade. Sure, he may have started out in music as an indie rapper in the group Emanon, but his heart has always been in the R&B of old. The sound of the Californian singer/songwriter is a clear tip of the hat to the classic-soul of the 1970's. His tight band could have easily backed up any Stax Records artist from back in the day, his lyrics are crafted so finely it seems as though he is covering classics and his raw, emotive and smooth as butter vocals hark back to the soul legends of yesteryear such as Donny Hathaway, Bill Withers and Marvin Gaye.
It was a fitting venue for such an artist who took us back to a golden age of music. Trak Lounge resembles a 1970's Casino with it's winding staircases and ornate detailing and when Aloe took the stage suited up like James Bond, everything just clicked nto place.
He belted out "Good Things" settting the tone perfectly for the show, letting us know afterwards that he wanted everyone to get involved, to be positive and enjoy our damn selves. The large crowd obliged by throwing back his call and response exclaimations with Simon Says like energy and grooving through the rest of the set.
He gave us a new song entitled "Share and Share Alike" which was stunning in it's simplicity and had us all chanting along. Then Aloe introduced the band one by one, Motown style, and gave the lads some well desrved time to shine solo, belting out some R&B grooves so thick it was impossible to stand still. The lights dimmed green and Aloe threw us a reinterpretation of the classic Curtis Mayfield "Diamond in the Back" that got a cheer of appreciation from the tue soul fans, then when the lights fell to purple he dropped a few gears and launched into his track about broads you got watch out for with "Femme Fatale".
When a harp got wheeled out we knew we were in for something special and when the first bars of "Mama Hold My Hand" were heard the crowd absolutely transfixed. The song is one of Aloe's most powerful, an ode to his mother that even a grown man would struggle not to get slightly choked up by.
Aloe masterfully brought us back by going back to his old MC days on Stones Throw and spitting some off the dome lyrics, proving he still has the chops to rhyme is needed. "You Make Me Smile" was huge crowd favourite and Aloe implored the crowd to get their daily dose of 8 hugs a day in order to keep smiling.
The song that broke him into the mainstream thanks to televison show "How To Make It in America" was suitably epic. "I Need a Dollar" had everybody amped and when he went and broke it down reggae style, with thye dub in full effect the crowd almost lost their mind. Aloe's Australian wify and fellow rapper/singer/TV host Maya Jupiter then sneaked onstage for the pinnacle and announced that since it was midnight it was actually Aloe's birthday! She led the crowd in belting out 'Happy Birthday' which seemed a fitting way to thank the man for such an uplifting performance.