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Raphael Saadiq

Raphael Saadiq is one smooth character. At the House of Blues, the triple-threat singer, songwriter and producer glided through an imposing, career-spanning two-hour show, starting the holiday fireworks a day early. By evening's end, there was no doubt that Saadiq is a major talent.

With:
Band: Raphael Saadiq, Kelvin Wooten, Rob Bacon, Preston Crump, Charlie Bereal, DC, Kahari Parker, Myrna Crenshaw, Keisha Williams, Le Jon Walker, David Garcia. Guest appearances: Devon The Dude, Joi, Quik, Guapele, Ledesi, Tony! Toni! Tone! (Dwayne Wiggins, Timothy Christian), Les Wilson, D'Angelo.

Raphael Saadiq is one smooth character. At the House of Blues, the triple-threat singer, songwriter and producer glided through an imposing, career-spanning two-hour show, starting the holiday fireworks a day early. By evening’s end, there was no doubt that Saadiq is a major talent.

Rail thin, with a honeyed tenor combining Donnie Hathaway’s yearning and Stevie Wonder’s irrepressible melodic invention, Saadiq blossomed onstage performing the “gospeldelic” material from his 2002 solo debut “Instant Vintage” (Universal). A preacher with a streetwise edge, he seduces with liquid phrasing and a courtly restraint. He wants to kiss you everywhere, he pledges, even, he adds with a coy pause and downward tilt of his head, “there.”

His 12-piece band can readily handle the simmering, Prince-styled rock of “Charlie Ray” as well as the bruising gospel of “Be Here” — the latter so explosive it inspired guest performer D’Angelo to leap into the crowd and dance.

The concert (taped for release this fall on DVD) included a full complement of guests, but none of them, not even the reunited Tony! Toni! Tone!, overshadowed the star’s understated charisma. He holds the stage with the easy confidence of a man who knows a pale, dove-colored tuxedo stands out among the flashier red, white and black. Even Leslie Wilson’s astounding, pulpit-pounding turn during “Uptown,” a performance that left the aud wrung out but cheering, couldn’t dim the spotlight on Saadiq.

Raphael Saadiq

House of Blues; 1,000 capacity; $35 top

Production: Presented inhouse. Reviewed July 3, 2003.

Cast: Band: Raphael Saadiq, Kelvin Wooten, Rob Bacon, Preston Crump, Charlie Bereal, DC, Kahari Parker, Myrna Crenshaw, Keisha Williams, Le Jon Walker, David Garcia. Guest appearances: Devon The Dude, Joi, Quik, Guapele, Ledesi, Tony! Toni! Tone! (Dwayne Wiggins, Timothy Christian), Les Wilson, D'Angelo.

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