in performance: keb’ mo’

keb' mo'

keb’ mo’

“Put your clothes back on, baby. We’re going to the mall.”

That delicious little no sequitur spilled out of Keb’ Mo’ last night at the Lexington Opera House in the middle of Dangerous Mood, the one tune in the two hour program that approximated traditional blues. But even that was sung with a knowing wink. If it summoned the blues inspirations that defined a portion of the Grammy winning song stylist’s musical persona, it also reflected considerably more of his mood – relaxed, whimsical and a little fearless.

While Mo’ and his three member band stressed new material with a generous sampling of songs from his 2014 album BLUESAmericana, the performance very much played to the Mo’ we know. What he played wasn’t blues by any strict definition, nor was that the intention. It was a sleek meshing of pop and soul that could have passed as an Americana version of Steely Dan. From the warm, hopeful cast of For Better or Worse and Do It Right (both BLUESAmericana songs) to the modest urban R&B flow of 1996’s More Than One Way Home to the very suburban slant of 2004’s Shave Yo’ Legs, Mo’ was very much the pop soul everyman. He seemed to revel playing the part, too.

There were a few instances that weren’t so much an exception to the show’s amiable but precise feel as an extension of it. For instance, The Old Me Better, an amusing BLUESAmericana yarn about marital metamorphosis previewed as an acoustic yarn at Mo’s 2014 Opera House outing, was playfully beefed up last night by drummer Casey Wasner’s double duty turns on kazoo. The results turned the song into a sort of jugband shuffle. There were also several fine guitar solos from Mo’ throughout the performance, including one during The Whole Enchilada that nicely complimented his band’s cool, exact groove.

The encore segment was a bit odd, though. After She Just Wants to Dance brought more than a few engaged patrons to their feet, the wheels came off during a few unplanned tunes of Mo’s choosing that ground to a halt with BLUESAmericana’s finale song So Long Goodbye.

Mo’ admitted the concert technically ended She Just Wants to Dance and that the final skirmishes constituted a rehearsal. Okay. But are songs full of botched lyrics and cues really how you want to take a show home? Rehearsal or not, it was a surprisingly deflating end to a show that seemed to pride itself on its balance of precision and feel.



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