Monday, May 17, 2010

Goapele LIVE at The New Parish - Oakland, CA.

GoapeleMay 13 and 14, 2010 at The New Parish – Oakland, CA. …Regular readers of know that we admire Bay Area artist Goapele. Any chance we get to see her perform – we are trying to be there. So it was with great anticipation that we looked forward to a two-night stint at The New Parish (which is at least partially owned by her brother – he might own the whole thing – I’m not sure).

With any musical performance I try really hard to not EXPECT anything – that way I am less likely to be disappointed. But with Goapele I’m starting to get the feeling she may never let me down. On both nights – she entertained me as much or more than any current relevant performer.

Goapele featured selected new material on both nights with “Tears on My Pillow” standing out as a slow simmering, bluesy, potential hit. The song perfectly captures the resignation of a broken heart. She sang with a backing band of five; drums, bass, guitar, keys, and turntables. Her newest song, “Right Here” was received overwhelmingly well on Thursday night. It is a pop-inspired tune with an undeniably catchy hook that appears to be very radio-friendly (It was short. I’m guessing less than three-minutes.)

The Thursday show also produced the highlight of the two nights when Goapele dedicated “Darker Side of the Moon” to her Mother who was in attendance. Singing a'capella is a strong point for Goapele who I’ve seen move people to tears with her combination of sincerity, strength and vocal skill.

The show opened both nights with the rocking and grooving Yeah Yeah Yeah (I hope it ends up on the new album). If the set list varied from one night to the next outside of no “Darker Side…” on Friday, I didn’t notice. “Romantic” was mashed by the band with Bootsy Collins’ “I’d Rather Be with You” for a very satisfying funk.

Goapele has great taste in music. She covered “Maps” by the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s in a soulful way that betters the original version. (I hope THAT ends up on her new album too). Roy Ayers’ classic Everybody Loves the Sunshine was a great set closer each night.

DJ Apollo gets love for his Pete Rock & CL Smooth drop in at the break of “Got It”. Apollo also had a quick solo each night along with drummer (???? – sorry I didn’t catch his name). …First Love is always performed well and the audience both nights did their best to sing along. …Personal favorite songs from Goapele’s vastly underrated Change it All CD were rocked with precision. “4 am” and “Crushed Out” show off her R&B sensibilities, and lyrical prowess.

Prior to the Ayers cover, the opening notes of “Closer” play and the crowd always goes koo koo. The song has taken on a life of it’s own as an anthem for anyone still striving for happiness (which is all of us right?). Other songs performed included “Catch 22”, “Different”, “Milk + Honey”, and the rocking encore “Love Me Right”.

To sum it up – Goapele gets it. She is humble. She has class. She rocks. She is soulful. She maintains her cool yet radiates heat. She clearly respects her craft and has mastered it.

At the risk of tooting our own horn regarding reviewing musical acts – we are seldom wrong about those we think should be getting more worldwide hype. I trust my sense to know a hit when I hear one. Likewise I know a star when I see one.

Goapele is star. AND she has hits!

I’m not telling anyone in Northern California anything they don’t already know. She as over 40,000 fans on Facebook but it says here that 40,000 will be a tiny number compared to the fans she is still to attract as her career moves closer to achieving her dreams.

If you do not own Goapele’s music – please visit her website and buy it directly from her. (We not affiliated in any way).

Below is “the rest of the review” which is about the overall experience.

I wanted to mention three other people real quick that enhanced the experience I had. On Thursday – prior to Goapele’s performance – two high-school age girls delivered separate spoken word pieces that cut through the heart with raw emotion. The first poet’s take on domestic violence was moving and important to hear. The following girl – (I believe named Ericka?) was equally as gripping with a soliloquy about being just a number as a Foster child. It was heavy. …More upbeat but equally deserving of praise was the Friday night warm-up DJ who expertly set the right vibe for Goapele’s live show.

About the place… The New Parish is located in Oakland – not far from the city center. It is a cool spot that I would recommend to anyone. You should know a few things before you go. Here are my tips from visiting the club on back-to-back nights. …Parking was an issue for me. If you can taxi to the spot – I would advise doing so. I parked in a lot across the street on Thursday night for $10. The same lot was closed on Friday so I found a guy with a local business a block away that let me park at his place for $3. There may be a better way to park but if there is I did not find it. …The doors opened late both nights which is common for a club. I would have appreciated a true “doors open at” listing on my ticket that read “Goapele 7 pm” Thursday (and 8 pm Friday). I arrived at 6:45 PM Thursday ready to get a drink and relax. Instead I stood outside in line on a chilly night for 45 minutes plus waiting for the doors to open. I did not enjoy that. …Once inside there was a bar-b-q wood smoke smell due to a courtyard grill that was bleeding smoke into the concert space. While I would love to tell you it was just adding character to the venue – the truth is – I wanted some fresh air as the smoke seemed a bit much. ...The intimate setting offers standing room in front of the stage downstairs, and a bar to the left of the stage. There is limited seating around the perimeter. An upstairs horse-shoe shaped area gives a bird’s eye view of the show with seats close to the balcony edge. There was a bar up there as well as what appeared to be a VIP type section. …In summary of The New Parish: cool new spot to see an intimate performance. Take a cab.

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