Janelle Monae electrifies Toronto at the Kool Haus
"Hello, my name is mister Marlowe Mind Bender," said the white-suited and bow-tied MC for the night. "Some of you don't scare as much as you should, so Janelle is here to funk you up!"
Enter Janelle Monae onto the all white-draped bedroom-like stage that allowed it to adapt to whatever mood was required thanks to the lighting team. Those who have seen her play, or even read her album liner notes, may be familiar with her unique blending of '70s P-Funk and Sun Ra sci-fi afronautical adventures, Jimi Hendrix riffage, and 1920s Jazz and Vaudeville culture.
The electric lady did not lie, and her back up team of ten dancers and musicians kept the crowd alive with dazzling smiles and swift kicks. The "I Want You Back" Jackson 5 cover and accompanying dances reminded us that if MJ was the master, then Janelle Monae is the mistress of the moonwalk. Rather than just crowd surf, this Q.U.E.E.N. swam her way through the Kool Haus.
"Dance Apocalyptic" was easily a standout with the non-stop jive-talkin, jitter-buggin' chalangalangalangalangin'. Sadly, there were no surprise guest appearances from the likes of Prince or Erykah Badu, but a cover of Prince & the Revolution's "Let's Go Crazy" did slip into the setlist.
"Life is about experiences, and what an experience this has been," Monae said as she burst into the final track, "What An Experience," complete with a 10 minute long call and response series that had her slithering across stage whispering sweet little syllables to the loving crowd of boiz, aging fashionistas, and lovers of all things funky.
If you ended the night feeling like you still needed an extra touch of Monae in your life, sweet-scented mason jars of "imagination" each claiming to hold a breath of hers, were available at the merch table for $100.
MORE PHOTOSPhotos by Alejandro Santiago