Ms. Badu celebrates classic album, birthday in the Bean
When Erykah Badu announced a tour to celebrate the 16th birthday of her debut album “Baduizm,” more than a few R&B fans rejoiced. Classic might be one of the most overused words in music circles, but when speaking of the R&B singer’s debut, there’s a good argument that it isn’t sheer hyperbole. Badu’s 1997 effort helped set the bar for a wave of neo-soul artists in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. The album was so loved that she released a live album of the project later the same year and received a Grammy. It’s a work worth celebrating.
This past Sunday (Mar. 3) the Baduizm Tour’s sold-out Boston stop brought the party to the House Of Blues. Badu’s near flawless set was the perfect soundtrack to a good time — rightfully so, since she announced that this show fell on her 42nd birthday. After an hourlong opening set by her DJ, Badu took the stage as her band completed the album’s opening track “Rimshot (Intro).” Backed by two drummers, three backup singers, a bassist, guitarist, keyboardist and a DJ, she deftly performed the album in sequence, allowing the crowd to see how complete a work it is. It’s laid out perfectly. You also see how connected the audience is to it as screams of anticipation met the close of every song. Badu even included the interludes and skits, which were recited verbatim by the crowd.
Since its release, “Baduizm” has seen its audience grow. The diversity of fans at the House Of Blues spoke to the album’s broad appeal. The crowd was made up of everyone from those who bought “Baduizm” on the day it dropped to those possibly conceived while it played.
With an album this smooth, it could be assumed that the show would have been almost too laid back to inspire a strong performance. Not the case here. Her band, minus an early missed cue in the set, was tight. Her vocals were strong throughout the night and she played the perfect party host with her banter. Badu’s flair for the theatrical made the performance something to remember. Her encore, where she performed her hits from other albums — including a stellar extended version of “Danger” — featured a stage dive and crowd surfing that literally caused her to lose her hat and wig. Returning to the stage as she composed herself, she quipped about how “wild” Boston was. Surely a birthday to remember.