Monday, June 16, 2003

Green shines; sound spoils Musiq show

By Jeff Wilson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Let's face it: for years the music known as R&B was so watered down the only thing it had in common with its previous incarnations was the name. Slick and overproduced, much of it rivaled bottom-rung pop music for blandness and formulaic songwriting.

The thirst for something more real helped pull 1,100 people into Bogart's Saturday night. Musiq and Vivian Green are both young singers from Philadelphia who harken back to the days when soul music actually had soul. Their band members play "real" instruments and their songs have personality.

Green's nine-song, 50-minute set consisted entirely of selections from her debut effort, A Love Story, which received favorable reviews and garnered strong record sales. In this case the attention is warranted: the chronicle of love gone bad, A Love Story is a solid, consistent record.

Her performance at Bogart's was even better.

Her backing band sounded less polished than her studio recordings, but it also had more of an edge, and so did she, and her music benefited from an earthier and sometimes funkier approach.

Opening with "Fanatic," Green seemed poised and confident, drawing the crowd into her songs of love and loss almost immediately. Dark and dramatic, "24 Hour Blue (Just One of Those Days)" and "Superwoman" examined the down side of relationships, but more cheerful numbers like "Complete" and "Music" were also powerful. Her first single, "Emotional Rollercoaster," ended the set strongly.

According to normal concert protocol the headliner gets the best sound, but the bass-heavy mix for Musiq's set was wretched.

Musiq's 80-minute set started in a laid-back fashion, with loose, sprawling versions of medium and slow tunes like "Previouscats" and "Dontchange."

Some of these songs are better than others, but a lousy mix made everything sound the same.

Late in the show the energy level rose with "Caught up with Her" and remained high until the end. Infectious funk rhythms and psychedelic guitar riffs sparked the crowd, as did a brief appearance by Bootsy Collins, who sang a few lines before returning backstage.

Hopefully he hung around and convinced Musiq that he needs to hire a new sound person.

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