Erykah Badu Gets a Second Chance in Oakland Tonight

Erykah Badu doesn’t have the “six and change” vocal range of a more lush balladeer like Lalah Hathaway or Rachelle Ferrell, but it’s easy to fall in love with her for a number of other reasons: the Austin Powers outfits; the nasal, Billy Holiday texture of her voice; the Afro that careens in every direction. Unfortunately, such attributes didn’t quite cut it at last night’s Paramount show, even though Badu had everything set up to really manhandle an audience — from the cute back-up singers to the choreographed dance moves to aptly chosen drummer Chris Dave (who’s also held rhythm section duties for Mint Condition and Bilal). The problem was that she chose to ignore those assets, and instead build an entire show around wailing, drawn-out high notes. The result was a bit like watching a jazz saxophonist who tries to cram as many notes as possible in the space of a single measure, if only to show off his chops. It just made everyone tired.

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