D’Angelo’s “Second Coming”

Marcus C. Shepard

Last night, I had the pleasure of witnessing the “second coming” of D’Angelo during The Second Coming Tour when it touched down in Los Angeles at Club Nokia. Fresh off of this leg’s first show in Oakland, D’Angelo and his band The Vanguard are clearly a well oiled machine and the 14 year gap between D’Angelo’s landmarked sophomore album Voodoo (2000) and his critically acclaimed third Black Messiah (2014) feels like a distant afterthought after his over two hour set filled with new songs (“Ain’t That Easy,” “Betray My Heart,” “The Charade,” “Sugah Daddy,” “Another Life”) and some fan favorite classics (“Brown Sugar,” “Left & Right,” “Chicken Grease,”).

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While D’Angelo has been making the touring rounds the past few years including a co-headlining The Liberation Tour (2012) with Mary J. Blige, as well as his European Occupy Music Tour (2012), The Second Coming Tour marks D’Angelo’s more official return to the stage here in the States after releasing Black Messiah and was filled with several master classes taught by the legendary musician. Not only were D’Angelo’s vocals as crisp as they were at the height of Voodoo, but his musicianship on both the guitar and piano were in fine form as he fronted The Vangaurd (a 10-piece band that included three background singers, two guitarists, a bassist, a saxophonist, a trumpeter, a percussionist, as well as a pianist).

What makes The Second Coming Tour one of the must see tours this spring/summer, in my humble opinion, is the sheer musicianship and talent you will witness firsthand. Every musician and vocalist involved in The Vangaurd, including D’Angelo is at the top of his/her “game” and the improvisational moments that spill across D’Angelo’s meaty set will not only have you mesmerized but on your feet grooving as “Sugah Daddy” proved to be one of the most energetic moments of the night.

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Having witnessed D’Angelo’s set at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles back in 2012, he and his band have clearly found the perfect groove coming from both an increased frequency of playing together as well as a more established repertoire that now officially utilizes Black Messiah. During his 2012 set from The Liberation Tour, it was clear that D’Angelo was still tinkering with the lush and brilliant instrumentation of the new songs he played (“The Charade,” “Sugah Daddy,” and “Another Life”) and was still adjusting to the spotlight post Voodoo.

While 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of D’Angelo’s Brown Sugar (1995), his classic jam “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” capped off the night after two encores from the crowd and the nearly 17-minute rendition caused quite a stir at Club Nokia to say the least. There aren’t enough words to truly describe that transcendent moment, but luckily I captured it below. I promise you witnessing this musical genius and The Vanguard in action first hand is a sight to behold and even this sublime video doesn’t do them a lick justice.

I highly encourage you to see The Second Coming Tour when it reaches a town near you and while the tour is almost, if not entirely sold out, if you can find a decent scalper ticket (like I did) I suggest you jump at the opportunity.

 

MPicMarcus C. Shepard
Currently enrolled at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication as a doctoral candidate, Marcus graduated from Northwestern University with a B.A. in Commuication where he also helped co-found the first soul and gospel a cappella group Soul4Real. At Northwestern, he merged his love for singing soul music with his academic interests and began studying how neo-soul music intersects with identity. Marcus studies communication, identity and diversity as they are heard within soul music and discussed by multiracial communities.