This past Saturday marked the first show of Shad‘s tour following the release of his fourth album, Flying Colours. If this was any foreshadowing of his career, the future bodes well for this Kenyan born artist.
A sure sign of pending or actualized success is a slew of enthusiastic fans, which was definitely not in the deficit at the Opera House on Saturday. His audience ranged from people my parents’ age to a large number of those who bore an ‘X’ on the backs of their hands for not yet being legal to drink. From the start of the show with Intro: Lost to the end where a big musical thank you to all his fans et al was dished out, the ambiance was an exceptionally receptive one; and in some cases, one might even say that they were frighteningly overzealous to the point of obnoxious. (That’s right, sweaty kid in the grey H&M hoodie, I’m talking to you. Just because you had your first legal sip of alcohol doesn’t mean constantly shoving and waving your hand in front of our photographer’s camera is making you any cooler. But no hard feelings. We at Bad Perm understand that there’s at least one of you at every concert.)
What struck me as an indication of the fans’ dedication was their clear familiarity with both Shad’s older and newer songs, even with the release of his new album being so recent. Alternating between the old and the new, it suffices to say that the crowd was well entertained from the bass-heavy introduction, build up of plot, through to the plot twist and towards the heartfelt end. Allow me to continue with this narrative analogy. If Shad’s performance was a film, then the clear demarcations of plot development was key in holding the audience captivated without comatose blank stares. Start off with feel-good rhymes such as Stylin‘ and just when we think it’s all light-hearted fun, a dark turn of events reveals itself in the form of American Pie (Progress: Part 1). Definitely one of my personal favourites live, Shad prefaced this particular performance by first explaining that this was the result of his freedom to experiment more in his fourth album. Moodier than the rest of his tracks, it swayed away from any remnants of sounds that might be interpreted as generic and gave the show in its entirety a little more complexity for its diversifying.
But fret not, lonesome moviegoer, for as soon as the minor keys of this morose plot twist worked itself out we were back on an uplifting track towards salvation with Rose Garden (probably one of his most famous pieces), which acted as the sliver of hope that promises a happy ending. New characters were introduced now and then, in addition to the fervent DJ and keyboardist who were constants of the show. The combined talents of these two main characters plus a saxophone player at one point and Shad himself on an electric guitar at another added to the layered scheme of the music. He finished with Remember to Remember, leaving loose ends and unfinished narrative to tease the audience with an obvious encore. But Shad left the stage for what might’ve been 30 seconds before coming back on to perform A Good Name to a sea of continuously cheering fans. That part felt a little contrived; I like it better when a man doesn’t give it up so easily and makes me beg for it. But as the show was concluding for the second time around, his background characters dropped away along with all background music. No smoke and mirrors, all that remained was a man, his mic and his Epilogue: Long Jawn so that his lyrical talent shone through without any supporting appendages. A beautiful, genuine way to end his performance. Except this time when he left the stage and left us wanting more, it was for more than his pointless previous 30 seconds. When the crowd screamed out for an encore for five minutes or so, he came back with the rest of the cast and energetically performed to the last note. His concluding song (for real this time) was Thank You, and true to form he reached his hand out to his audience, in gratitude, in elation, to shake hands and give props.
His conclusion was a humble and sincere thank you, and mine is that it was a thoroughly enjoyable show. Even if you hate rap, or aren’t a huge fan of his music, after such a performance it would be hard not to say “Hey Shad, I like you” for all the passion and presence that the guy puts into his work. After a successful first show of his current tour, I, along with his continuous stream of enthusiastic fans, look forward to what Shad’s next move will be.
A special thanks to Kat at Webster Media Consulting and Katherine at Union Events.