Raphael Saadiq played Showbox at the Market on Monday, November 16.
The Act: Raphael Saadiq, a soul singer from Oakland, brought an eight-piece band, two suits (red, gray), and a pair of aviator shades to town.
The Gig: Monday night's show was moved from the larger Showbox SoDo to Showbox at the Market within the last week or so. Saadiq played Showbox at the Market in March, and Bumbershoot over Labor Day weekend.
The Crowd: Seattle turned out nice, especially for a Monday night. There's no telling what the folks in the bar behind my back were up to, but the floor was surprisingly frisky.
The Show: Saadiq and company have their set down cold. From the instant classic, "100 Yard Dash," off last year's The Way I See It to "Dance Tonight" from Saadiq's Lucy Pearl days, there is no mistaking the band's intensity or mission. And therein lies the most favorable - and frustrating - element's of Saadiq's show.
At its best, the show is a sweaty party mashing up doses and funk and hip hop with Saadiq's throwback R&B played to perfection. At its worst, it's a rigid--if vibrant--stage show. If there were extended segments of improv last night, the band did a good job disguising them as scripture. And there were times when Saadiq and friends' choreographed moved drifted frighteningly close to Dreamgirls levels of schmaltziness.
But these are details. The audience didn't care that the sax player didn't get more chances to step into the spotlight (though I did). They got what they came for. Let's put it this way: Halfway through the set, Saadiq pulled from his song "Let's Take a Walk" to tell the audience that A: "This place is crowded"; and B. "I need some sex."
It's hard to imagine that Saadiq came to Seattle and left with only a crowded room.