The finesse of Beyonce, spunk of Whitney Houston, dance moves of Tina Turner and quirkiness of Bjork in one, Afro-wearing package.
Photo via Gaffa
Solange took to Arena stage on Thursday like a goddess, combining the soulful grace of legendary R&B predecessors, the gentle absurdity of a future soul pioneer and the fresh and fierce modernity of a hip hop queen. While this year has been largely shit for the rest of the world, Solange has been earning victories for all of us. Solange’s recent album “A Seat At The Table” delivers the smooth and energetic quality of her previous work with the sensitivity and thoughtfulness of a wordsmith and an activist. The album is a complete success and it is an important moment, specifically for the black community; Solange has truly converted the heart and soul of the black experience and made it into art.
All of this was conveyed in her powerful live performance on Thursday. She carried herself in such a way that was extremely powerful yet still remarkably vulnerable and completely authentic. She began the performance on a soft and somber note, waiting until song three to perform “Cranes in the Sky”, to enthusiastic cheers from the pit. At first, it seemed as though the packed Arena stage was crowded beyond the pavilion to witness the spectacle that was Beyoncé’s sister. Yet little by little, the infectious energy and endearing openness with which Solange carries herself and infuses into her music became apparent and by the end of the show, the audience was hers and it became apparent exactly who she was and what she was there for.
There was an extremely powerful moment when Solange was performing the song “F.U.B.U.”, where she approached the crowd and as she sang the prevalent message of the song “this shit is for us”, she singled out one tearful afro-rocking fan, and gave her an enormous hug. Her performance from start to finish was an emotional roller coaster. It undulated from sultry to energetic, dissonant to melodic, happy to mournful.
Towards the end of her incredibly versatile and soulful performance, she took a moment of candor to admit to the audience “Like I told the good people of Poland yesterday… I’m motherfucking tired.” The entire audience was thrilled at this raw unfiltered moment of realness. She went on to explain the challenges she’s faced as a mother and wife while on tour, flying across the world to spend time with family and also follow her passion and her heart. She continued, “there are times when I feel like I have no vocals, nothing left in my body… And I come out here and your energy gives me life. I feel so blessed that this is my job. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here.” It was then that she had solidified the energy and love of the entire crowd. They were no longer there to sneak a peak into the life of Beyoncé by way of her younger sister. Solange’s performance was completely authentic and well thought out and developed. The audience felt that and the entire experience was a win for everyone involved. Solange has been on her own unique and compelling journey as an artist and clearly as a person. She took a moment to acknowledge this journey and thank those who had invested in her and been there since the very beginning.
She closed her breathtaking performance with her final chill-inducing emotional song, “Don’t Touch My Hair”. What made this song particularly poignant and powerful was the way she took her time, not shying away on letting a moment hang in silence before bursting back to life. They ended the song with the same persistent riff, belted out from all corners of the stage.
Finally Solange took a long bow and exited the stage, followed by her talented backup dancers, then the killer brass section and soon the once red stage was faded again to black. By the end of the performance, I think everyone felt as though they’d been hugged by Solange.