Material: It is hard not to draw comparisons to Erykah Badu here, but Inobe differentiates herself with a spunky persona as she declares, “We’ve got a party going on up here!” “She’s Fly” is one of the best originals in her set. Inobe’s commanding delivery of empowering spoken-word sounds like a send-up to Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City”: “She works hard every day of the week/she cuts back and bargains to make her ends meet/ Her story needs to be told/She ain’t got a lot, but she’s rich in her soul.” Inobe also talks about her southern heritage as an intro to a song that lists collard greens, biscuits, rice and gravy and black eyed peas. This would be Jill Scott’s “It’s Love,” which sounds better live without the echo effects of the original studio version.
Musicianship: The show begins with subtle percussive layering between Ritter and Thierry on “Bad Dah Dah” while Satsangi gets even funkier over the top of that foundation. This is all the perfect match for Inobe’s syncopated scatting. The introduction from Smith gets very intricate on “Lovin’ You” and he offers a solid introduction on “She’s Fly” where Thierry adds a nice and clean solo. While the cymbals tend to overpower Thierry’s solo on “Take A Drive,” Ritter has consistently tight finales throughout the show.
Performance: Inobe gets her audience involved from start to finish. She introduces the songs and her band members with ease. Unfortunately, she kept experiencing a crackly mic, largely due to the way she cups the head of the microphone and bends the cable. Price offers a lower range to counterpoint Inobe on the choruses. There is a debate as to when to be theatrical in a performance at the expense of losing your sound; Price faces Inobe at points when she sings, which looks great on stage but unfortunately results in lost vocals.
Summary: Overall the band is tight, but could work on making a few minor technical adjustments. The group excels at building the dynamic tension of each song, offering those vocal- and guitar-only moments that leave the audience mesmerized before the full band crescendos. While there were no horn players in this particular show, they could easily be a welcome addition to the majority of the songs.
The Players: Inobe, vocals; Rochelle Price, back up vocals; Austin Thierry, guitar; A.J. Satsangi, guitar; Adam Smith, bass; Allan Ritter, drums.
Photo by Michael Pool