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Lenny Kravitz, O2 review - gloriously joyful rock 'n' roll | reviews, news & interviews

Lenny Kravitz, O2 review - gloriously joyful rock 'n' roll

Lenny Kravitz, O2 review - gloriously joyful rock 'n' roll

Love is in the air as the rocker brings his monster tour's latest leg to a thrilling close

It ain't over 'til it's over: Lenny Kravitz

“Lenny’s coming! Lenny’s coming!” When the lights go down at the O2 tonight, it’s not just the small child behind us who’s excited. Support act Corinne Bailey Rae has done a good job in getting the crowd in the mood (unfortunately, we miss most of her set due to queue mismanagement – a real shame), and a thrilled ripple goes through the crowd when Kravitz appears on a raised walkway, framed dramatically between two giant curved golden horns rising up from the stage.

In tan leather jacket, flared jeans, heels and massive shades, the charismatic 55-year-old Kravitz looks like he could have been plucked from his early Nineties heyday and sounds like it too, his voice untouched by time. Backed by an impressive band that features former David Bowie collaborator and, says Kravitz, “our queen” Gail Ann Dorsey on thunderous bass, Kravitz belts through “We Can Get It All Together” (from latest album Raise Vibration), “Fly Away”, “Dig In” and a funky, extended version of “American Woman”, the last morphing into a groove-laden, sultry “Get Up, Stand Up” complete with synchronised moves from the horn section.

Kravitz is in no mood for an early night. “I hear there’s a strict curfew,” he says (there is – it’s 11pm. Well, it is a school night, Lenny). “But y’all better write the cheque now because I don’t think I’m gonna make it…” It’s early yet but on the evidence of what he’s produced so far, it’s clear that he’s serious. “Back to 1991,” he declares, before launching into a blistering “Fields of Joy”, from 1991’s monster hit album Mama Said. Drenched in red light, astonishingly Afroed guitarist Craig Ross stands in for Slash (who played on the record), dazzling with a solo that gets Kravitz up close and joining in.

After a short speech on the wonders of being alive and damning the “unenlightened monsters” in charge of us all, there’s an impassioned “Stillness of Heart”, before a joyous “It Ain’t Over ’Til It’s Over”. It’s utterly irresistible (as well as reminding us of Kravitz’s view on curfews). It’s also a time for some solos, which Kravitz applauds enthusiastically, shaking his head as if he can’t quite believe this is what he gets to do for a living. Dry ice billows during an atmospheric “Low”, with sunshiney new song “5 More Days ‘Till Summer” (we can but hope) picking up the pace. Then it’s “back to NYC… for some good old-fashioned racism” with “Mr Cab Driver” and “Bank Robber Man” – the latter, an account of when Kravitz was wrongly arrested for a bank robbery, eerily illuminated by red and blue flashing lights.

“Are You Gonna Go My Way” would be a lesser act’s ace in the hole for their encore, but Kravitz plays it with one song to go. It’s a triumph, with Kravitz encouraging a mass singalong to that famous riff and bowing down before yet another majestic guitar solo from Ross. “Love Revolution” finishes things off, before an encore comprising “Here to Love” – backed by a silhouetted gospel choir – and a spectacular, 25-minute “Let Love Rule”. Stretching it out like the pen’s already poised over that chequebook, Kravitz goes on an extended, rarely seen meet ’n’ greet through the crowd, popping up in the middle on a tiny stage before launching back into the astonished fans and wending his way back to the stage.

It’s easy to dismiss Kravitz's talk of love and being "blessed" as cheesy, but on the basis of tonight’s show he's totally genuine. Positivity and imploring everyone to love one another can’t be a bad thing, can it? And when the set, to nobody’s surprise, overruns by 10 brilliant minutes, you’ve got to think that cheque was worth it. What a joy.

The charismatic Kravitz looks and sounds like he could have been plucked from his early 90s heyday

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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