It’s never a good sign when the main act doesn’t come on stage until 9:50 p.m. At least not at Chastain Park Amphitheatre.
Maybe no one bothered to tell Erykah Badu before Saturday night’s show that as one fan put it “they don’t play that at Chastain.”
An hour after neo-soul (who’s sounding more rock than soul these days) singer Bilal left the stage, the only sign of Badu was a few members of her band tipping on stage to begin a smooth instrumental groove without her. Five minutes later, at 10 minutes till 10, the sold-out crowd got their first glimpse of Badu with her blonde mohawk fashioned hairdo.
For the next hour and 10 minutes, she put on show that was smoldering with funk, slick groves, and good old-school reminiscing. Just as she was about to put the show in high gear, the sound was gone. A startled Badu started checking her mic, before realizing she had been cut off for the night. It was after all 11:01 p.m. Fans started to boo as Badu took her final bow and exited the stage.
Yes, there are a million reasons why fans love Badu. Here a just three — along with one reason why she drives them crazy:
Free your mind. Without a doubt, Badu is one of the best lyricist out there. She gives you food for thought: I was born under water with three dollars and six dimes. She makes you check yourself: One day all them bags gone get in your way. So pack light. And she makes us laugh: You don’t ever buy me nothin’. See everytime you come around you gotta bring Jim, James, Paul and Tyrone.
New Amerykah Part 2 (Return to Ankh). Her new album, released last March, with its strong instrumentation, infectious hooks and romantic theme, reminds us of the Badu fans fell in love with after her debut album “Baduizm.” Hearing Badu perform it live? Priceless.
Way back. That’s where the 39-year-old Dallas singer took Atlanta Saturday night. Not just with her own songs like “On & On” and “Love of My Life,” but classic hip-hop beats like Whodini ’s “Friends,” Slick Rick’s “La Di Da Di” and N.W.A.’s “Life Ain’t Nothin…” By this point, you’ve forgiven the tardiness, thinking being on time is overrated if you can lose yourself in late ’80s, early ’90s for just a few moments. But then, you don’t really expect it to come to an end so soon, which brings us to the reason she drives us crazy:
Punctuality. Being on time has never been Erykah Badu’s thing. She is notorious for being fashionably late and yes, even rudely late. It’s not fair to fans that they spent more time waiting in their seats, than actual time listening to music from Badu. It’s not fair that just as you’re about to sway into “Didn’t Cha Know,” all you can hear is the audience singing. Silent microphone, just like that.
But rules are rules, and perhaps Badu should take to heart what she told fans early in her set:” Thank you for being patient. I don’t take it for granted.”