Bilal on Guitar

We are lucky to still have Bilal. After four albums including the unreleased (by a major label) Love For Sale, he is still exploring the boundaries of his art. With the release of his fifth album In Another Life, the unique vocalist decided to celebrate in his adopted home of NYC. Fans were treated to an opening set of 45s by the albums sole producer, Adrian Younge.

The dusty groove of the album was brought to life by a four piece band and one back up singer (with a nice range of his own). While this new album finds Bilal keeping his far reaching vocal range in check for the most part, his performance was still filled with the wailing that fans depend on from their favorite soul singer. The playful groove of Open up the Door gives way to a rare moment for everyone to do a little two step.

Money Over Love is just as menacing in person even without the Kendrick Lamar guest verse. However, it’s when Bilal does the song that makes him “spill out all his guts” Sometimes, that everyone completely looses it. The back up singer drives home the haunting adlibs and backing vocals of this classic record. The audience just sings along as if it’s their own tales being spilled in the song.

Adrian joins Bilal on stage about a quarter through the show to take on the keys. Featured artist Kimbra adds to the festivities for Holding It Back. The back up singer had to remind Bilal that the guitar sitting on stage is for him to actually play. He then proceeds to lightly strum it for the next song. It’s clearly something he’s working still on.

The overall show has a very loose feel to it. Without having the album as a map to follow, you would think it was a jam session. A really good one, but a jam session none the less.

After the customary leave the stage for a bit, the band returns for an encore performance of the Grammy nominated All Matter, followed by Back to Love. The show wraps up when Bilal brings his son on stage to say goodnight to the audience. It must feel nice as an artist to continue to create your own standards and not have to perform Soul Sista at every show. It’s his creativity, talent and ability to move forward which constantly gives him another life.

Energy Kimber and Bilal Bilal and Son

PHOTOS / STORY: Dashaun Simmons @13rose

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