Fresh off the European leg of his tour (and his unfortunate wardrobe mishap), Lenny Kravitz stormed through Toronto for the first time since 2008, earlier this week. Touring in support of his latest album Strut, fans couldn’t wait for this rock ‘n roll/funk superstar to take the stage.
It was a dark and cloudy evening, and the wind started to pick up. Thankfully the rain held off, and when Kravtiz graced the stage, the energy was out of this world. The set up was pretty simple, a bunch of spotlights set up behind the rock star and his band. He came dressed in ripped jeans, donning a solid beard and shades, in spite of the night sky. He opened with “Frankenstein,” the one and only track he played off Strut; right after, he jumped into his classics like “American Woman” and “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over.” The crowd was on their feet, excited, screaming, after not having seen Kravitz live for so many years.
Then he turned to his band, allowing each member of his 10-piece band, to freestyle solos for the audience to hear. They were unbelievable. Props to his band for elevating the show to such great heights, especially Craig Ross on guitar, Cindy Blackman on drums, Gail Anne Dorsey on bass, and trumpeter Ludovic Louis. The show quickly turned into a jam session, with intermittent vocals and guitar solos by Kravitz, but most of the limelight was on his band. He took a step back and let them do their thing.
As a result, each track went on for quite some time, especially “Let Love Rule,” during which Kravitz tried to get fans to repeat those three words over and over and over again, while he made his way through the crowd, signing autographs, taking pictures and giving out hugs. The band held their own and kept the track going, repeating the same riffs over and over. During the 2 hour extravaganza, Kravitz performed 11 songs (including the encore); a typical set is closer to 20 songs, especially from someone of his caliber.
The show can be interpreted in 2 ways: it was a fantastic, improvised, freestyling jam session, full of funk, rock and soul. It also lacked in any much performing by Kravitz himself. Most of the guitar parts were left to Ross; Kravitz would play a few riffs, then let Ross take over. Musically, the jam sessions were phenomenal, and frankly completely outshone and outdid Kravtiz. It seemed like he was more in the mood to kick back and interact with the crowd, than actually perform; like he was stalling until the show was over.
Overall, it was a great live musical experience, but it just wasn’t much of a Lenny Kravitz concert.