So it was the most romantic day of the year, and I was walking into the Fox Theater to “Let Love Rule”.
Well who better to do that with than Lenny Kravitz, who made an appearance on V-Day to support his ninth album, “Black and White America,” which debuted at No. 17 on the Billboard 200 this past September. And yes, you heard it right… I had a date with Lenny.
The show was sold out, and people came ready to rock. The opening set was by R&B sensation, and from Tony! Toni! Toné! Fame – Oakland’s own Raphael Saadiq. He set the house up for Lenny with a performance that got the crowd hyped up and ready to get wild.
There was a multi-ethnic crowd that you would expect from the recent renaissance of the East Bay, but also a diversity of ages that is a testament to the career Kravitz has had for the past 25 years. The packed house was electrified by his performance and showmanship. With all of the Lip-synching, and modified voice tracks that are out in the industry now, it’s always refreshing to hear an artist that sounds as accurate as one does on their album. His vocals were on-point. Lenny brought it, and brought it hard in true rock-n-roll fashion.
He brought a suaveness, savvy, and genuine sex appeal to the show, flirting with the crowd, his instruments, and his band – and driving the women in the crowd absolutely nuts. “I don’t know of a sexier place to be on Valentine’s than in Oakland,” he said early in the show. “Lord, have mercy!”
But there was something for the rest of us as well… Lenny just isn’t rock-n-roll. He also has incorporated roots of soul, pop, funk, r&b, and even techno throughout his unique career and style of music. This renowned singer-songwriter, record producer, and guitarist has been inspired by such music icons as David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, and John Lennon. Like Prince and Sly Stone before him, Kravitz uses a multi-ethnic, mixed-gender backing band.
He also added a three-piece horn section to his entourage, bringing a new level of soul to this performance. Throughout the two-hour set, he ran through a mix of old favorites and new album tracks. Highlights came with classic singles like “Fly Away”, “American Woman”, and “Are You Gonna Go My Way” that embraced us all. He also shared a campfire moment sitting down with the crowd performing an acoustic version of “Push” (see video below), one of the new tracks.
The concert ended in Kravitz fashion as he closed the house down with his first hit, 1989′s “Let Love Rule“, extending the number out 20 minutes, jumping into the crowd and singing from behind the floor sections, and running up to the balcony to touch those fans as well. All things aside, Oaklands (and my own) date night with Lenny was a phenomenal success.