Concert Review: Kelis At Park West - CATEGORY Breaking news: TITLE

The title of her latest album, “Food” doubles as an ad for Kelis’ Cooking Channel show. It also symbolizes the notion that music, family and home are forms of spiritual nourishment. So it was appropriate that she framed the set with a cover of “Feeling Good,” a Broadway song definitively performed by Nina Simone in the ‘60s. In Simone’s version, it became a song of emancipation, and Kelis – at 34, and a decade removed from her biggest hit – embraced its air of possibility. “It’s a new day, it’s a new life for me,” she sang over saucy sax and trumpet.

Then she took it right back to childbirth on “Breakfast,” and contemplated what kind of wealth is worth chasing in “Millionaire.” The music clearly connected with images of Kelis’ youth in Harlem, where jazz, soul, gospel and the aroma from mom’s kitchen shaped a mind set and a sound: organic, churchy, with lots of unison horns riffing and high-stepping over beats sourced from West Africa, South America and the Caribbean.

“Jerk Ribs” took Kelis to her hometown streets and their syncopations, her father’s advice “to look for the melody in everything” coursing through the tune. It was all very earth-motherly, but it wasn’t precious. It moved and rumbled, with its bass line rubbing against rippling drums, while horns peppered the arrangement with a counter melody.

To add to the downhome atmosphere, Kelis pulled out a book of her lyrics, which she would hold in front of her as if she were reading a story to her audience. Sometimes it sounded like she was. On a cover of Labi Siffre’s ‘70s R&B nugget “Bless the Telephone,” the band stripped down to two interlocking guitars while Kelis sang of consolation and friendship.

For “Friday Fish Fry,” she simply let it rip. “Give me what I need!” she pleaded over tent-revival tambourine and an answering chorus of voices. On “Cobbler” she sailed into the stratosphere after declaring, “You make me hit notes that I never sing.” Where did that come from? Even Kelis’ voice sounded renewed.

Kelis set list Monday at Park West:

1. Feeling Good (Nina Simone cover)

2. Breakfast

3. Millionaire

4. Hooch

5. Friday Fish Fry

6. Cobbler

7. Lil Star

8. Rumble

9. Forever Be

10. Trick Me

11. Runnin'

12. Bless the Telephone (Labi Siffre cover)

13. Milkshake

14. Jerk Ribs

15. 4th of July (Fireworks)

16. Acapella

17. Feeling Good reprise (Nina Simone cover)


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Concert review: Kelis at Park West
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