Neo Soul singer Dwele made his debut at Washington D.C.’s City Winery on March 9th, and graced the stage like a seasoned professional. The singer is currently on his “Ivory & Cream Tour,” and performed two back to back sold out shows that evening. I actually discovered Dwele’s music back in 2004 when I lived in England, as part of my Air Force enlistment.
Fifteen years later and four albums later, I finally had the chance to see him live and I was very impressed. Dressed in a cream colored suit, with a three-piece band backing him, I immediately begun to think that this is one performer who truly respects the craft of live performance. Too often R&B singers rely on a DJ or prerecorded tracks during their shows, but this wasn’t the case with Dwele. Throughout the night, Dwele and his band performed numerous songs from Dwele’s discography. It was apparent that Dwele knew his band and how to lead them.
One of the highlights of the night occurred when Dwele did an impromptu cover of The Gap Band’s classic hit “Outstanding.” Instead of just covering the song, Dwele asked the audience for suggestions on how to remix the song. The audience was then treated to Dwele experimenting with various music genres including rock, trap and of course hip hop. Given that it was March 9th, the anniversary of The Notorious B.I.G. untimely death, it seemed only fitting that Dwele pays homage to the late great lyricist. Dwele paid tribute by covering the rapper’s iconic “Big Poppa.”
As the night went on, Dwele continued to show his own musical skills by playing the piano and the trumpet. I had no idea that he could play any instruments, so I was astonished to hear how talented and verse he was. I also enjoyed how Dwele told the background on some of his songs as well. Listening to the story behind “Going Leaving” from his Greater Than One album, gives me a more profound respect for the song and its lyrics.
I have to say, that my favorite moment of the night occurred when Dwele pulled two couples on stage to help perform his sultry slow jam “Obey”, which is one of my personal favorites. Dwele then performed “Takes22Tango” and made his way into the crowd to dance with a few of the eager female fans in attendance. Dwele then closed out his set list with two of his biggest hits “I’m Cheating” and “Find A Way.”
While I generally enjoyed the show, I must say that I was a bit upset that the songs “What Profit,” “I Think I Love U” and “What’s Not to Love” were not a part of the set list. Never the less, Dwele proved to be a seasoned performer, and I look forward to attending another one of his live shows.
Final Grade A-