Black Pumas came into Radio City Music Hall on the second night of a new tour and showed the eclectic Radio City Hall crowd that the soul/funk/psychedelic rock labels most often associated with them are only the beginning of the conversation. After releasing their second strong studio album "Chronicles of a Diamond" this past fall, Black Pumas set their goal on making music that sounds good when played live. Per their Spotify bio, they call their musical style "Electric Church". I was already drinking the Kool-Aid after hearing the albums, and am now a full convert.
The Grammy-nominated single "More Than A Love Song" sounded as potent live as you could have hoped, there is a good reason it's up for Best Rock Performance.
"Ask the Grand Master, why, ask him why, life feels so hard sometimes
You got the muse, the music, sweet soul music
To reignite your soul, to reignite your soul
Because life is more, more than a love song, it's more than a fantasy."
The songwriting partnership of Eric Burton and Adrian Quesada has now produced two stellar albums, and their live show exceeded expectations. Lead Singer Burton has the stage presence of a superstar - the vocal capabilities, power of delivery, vibe, energy, emotion...it's all there. He took one trip into the crowd mid-show, and presented the first encore, a cover of "Fast Car" from an elevated walkway on the side of the room, just above me.
If you are considering seeing this band, part of the fun is the variety of sounds and styles that they throw at you. They keep you off guard, trying to keep up with the changes. I felt like I was watching a collective mad genius perform, and I struggled to process it all immediately - like a good film or book.
The setlist for the evening is on setlist.fm (as always), and can be found here. Additional standout tracks to explore are their breakthrough hit "Colors", the bouncy "Ice Cream (Pay Phone)", "Angel" and "Mrs. Postman".
It had been a while since I had been on a LATE train home from NYC. Feeling grateful after an enormously satisfying evening, I know that I was smiling while trying to uncomfortably sleep as the conductor called out the passing towns rolling by.