The Roots at House of Blues, Boston on Monday, December 26th, 2011.
Is there a more versatile band working today than The Roots? Trying to pin a genre tag on them is an exercise in frustration, and they plied the sold-out room with 150 minutes of a heady weave of hip-hop, New Orleans jazz, soul, dusky R&B, and more than a few moments straight-up blistering rock. After making the crowd restless with a forty-five minute wait, the Philly crew finally got on stage and got down to doing what they do best: get it on.
Unsurprisingly, the show featured a lot of the new Undun material, and was augmented on stage by singers Dice Raw and Bilal Oliver, who was immense on "The Other Side," a song that includes the immense line of "Every thought is dark as a fucking glass of Guinness."
While the nods to the great ancestral roots of Curtis Mayfield ("Move On Up"), The Commodores ("Jungle Boogie") and Gil Scott-Heron ("The Bottle") were obvious touchstones to what makes The Roots tick, they also tossed in a couple of slyly thrown knuckleballs with Guns 'n' Roses "Sweet Child Of Mine" and George Thorogood's "Bad To The Bone," and guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas ran circles around the riffs. His skill was obvious, and highlighted later during a self-initiated vocal and guitar line duet that would have made George Benson get up and applaud.
The Roots haven't scheduled a lot of dates yet in support of their excellent new record, but keep a google search open for the date when timekeeper par excellence ?uestlove and inimitable rapper Black Thought and crew touch down at a venue near you. Or even far from you. Make it your business to be there.