D'Angelo Finally Returns to NYC, Plays Two-Man Show With Questlove

Categories: Live

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Eliza Berse
Better Than: Waiting two hours for Justin Bieber.

Fans were told 9. Press was told 9:30. By 9:45 the room was packed to the rafters, and as 10 o'clock, and then 10:30 passed, the tension in the room was palpable, and the whispers began spreading through the crowd... Where is D'Angelo?

A fair question, and one that each member of the sold-out crowd had reason to ask. After all, that has been the question for more than 12 years now, and the man hasn't graced a stage in this city since the average Williamsburg resident was in middle school. Fans had reason to wonder, and more than that, reason to be concerned.

And then just before 11 pm, after a wait of more than a decade, the prodigal son returned, playing his first NYC club date in what has seemed like an eon. There have been false starts and almosts, cancelled dates and flirtatious near-misses, and more than 10 years lost to the wilderness of addiction and personal problems, and yet finally there he was, D'Angelo in all his mythologized glory, sitting behind assorted pianos on the Brooklyn Bowl stage with only longtime friend and collaborator Questlove at his side.

"Y'all waited 13 years, y'all can wait two hours," Questlove said. "I think that's enough. Lets go on!"

And as soon as D'Angelo and Questlove took the stage, easing into Sly and the Family Stone's "Let Me Have It All," it was clear that the crowd -- many of whom had been waiting at the front of the stage since doors opened at a little after 6pm, trying to get close to the singer who has been out of the spotlight for so long -- forgave the long wait for the man who has been so reclusive.

And as D and Q -- styling themselves the Soulquestrians, from the late-90s soul-hop collective of which they both were a part -- started in on their piano-beat grooves, the crowd duly responded. The duo went through a number of soul and funk tracks -- like a stripped-down version of Funkadelic's "Cosmic Slop" -- which had D'Angelo groaning, yelping and pleading the lyrics to the crowd's implicit approval. It really seemed a long-overdue coronation: a performer who had long deserved the adulation many were willing to lay upon him finally was able to bask in it, and D'Angelo certainly seemed to enjoy the experience, occasionally looking up from his keys and unleashing a sly smile and a quick burst of a falsetto scream.

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