CeeLo Green is Lobarace: Live in Vegas
You can tell by the title of this video of CeeLo Green’s recent residency in Sin City, the throw-back soul singer does not take any of the trappings of stardom too seriously. The dude wants to be the party and the party is in town.
Of course, if you get technical, other than his high profile gig as a judge on The Voice, as a solo artist, the guy is pretty much a one-hit wonder. He also had a big hit with his Danger Mouse collaboration group Gnarls Barkley. He also had some minor hits with the Goodie Mob. Plus, he wrote one of the Pussycat Dolls’ biggest hits.
However, Vegas audiences aren’t going to tend to be looking for album deep tracks and rarities. This is a venue that wants an iPod full of hits. Therefore, CeeLo brings the smashes, even if most of them are not his own songs.
This cover-heavy concert performance is obviously planned out to make the singer palatable to Vegas, with familiar songs, showgirls, tons of costume changes (many by CeeLo himself), lots of throbbing lights and sequins and glitter galore. However, despite the punny show title, the candelabras are left home.
CeeLo’s playlist is a pretty impressive and slightly far-reaching look at all types of soul, from hardcore funk to the blue-eyed variety. CeeLo covers three Culture Club songs (done as a medley). He also takes on a relatively obscure Prince single (“Hot Thang”). Then there is Rod Stewart’s disco smash “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy,” Rick James’ “Superfreak” and Chic’s “Le Freak” (also done in medley form).
CeeLo also rounds up his old Goodie Mob posse to do a medley of early hip-hop singles “Planet Rock” and “Apache.” He also steals back InXS’ new wave smash “Need You Tonight” for the R&B world, as the song’s distinctive backbeat had pretty blatantly been purloined from Kool & the Gang’s “Hollywood Swinging.” However, his finest moment as a cover artist is when CeeLo takes on the great forgotten old-school love jam “Side Show” by Blue Magic. (That said, the falsettoed verses of this old classic are the one place here in which CeeLo’s vocals don’t quite hit the mark, but close enough to still make it a stunning piece of showmanship.)
All of the cover songs are well-performed, supplely sung and tarted up with backing dancers, flashing lights and stagecraft that rivals Green’s Voice sidelight.
However, pleasantly, it quickly becomes obvious that CeeLo’s almost-hit “Bright Lights, Bigger City” is as strong a song as any of these classic hits, showing off Green’s strong chops and imaginative musical scope.