By Darlene Donloe
In what can only be described as a perfect night under the stars, Me’Shell NdegéOcello killed it during her sold-out set at the John Anson Ford Theatre’s Ignite @ The Ford series in Hollywood.
Accompanied by a tight-knit band that included Abe Rounds on drums, Jebin Bruno on keyboards, and Chris Bruce on guitar, NdegéOcello of course on bass, asked the audience if they could tell she was nervous. if she was, it certainly didn't show. She opened with Wasted Time and received a huge round of applause. She also hugged the audience with Suzanne, I Wonder If I Take You Home, and Good Day Bad.
She vacillated between her own material to covers of Al B. Sure’s Nite and Day, TLC’s Waterfalls, Force MD’s Tender Love, Sly and the Family Stones’ Sing a Simple Song and George Clinton’s Atomic Dog. She puts her own special folksy blend on each one practically making them unrecognizable – but keeping all of the intended flavor.
It was clear some fans were a bit disappointed that NdegéOcello didn’t sing more songs from her own original repertoire like Diggin’ You and didn’t sing anything from her debut album, Plantation Lullabies.
Even when someone yelled, “play something from Plantation Lullabies,” NdegéOcello was undeterred.
Her audience is always geared up to hear Soul Searching or Bitter, but it was not to be on this night. This night NdegéOcello was groovin’ to something else – and it was all good. True fans understand that a genius can’t be put in a box. They have to move to their own rhythm. It was still a magical evening as the audience hugged her every note and every meaningful lyric. An incredible lyricist, NdegéOcello is known for words that are empowering, emotional and always thought-provoking.
There are no smoke and mirrors at one of her shows. No scantily-clad dancers shaking their rumps no videos, strobing lights, or special effects. This is NdegéOcello raw and in all her glory. She stands and delivers.
NdegéOcello, who is phenomenal whether she picks up her bass or not, but who is on another plane, when she does have it in her hands, is so smooth she glides from one fabulous song to the next enticing her audience to take the musical journey with her.
She’s not much of a talker, though. She does banter back and forth with the audience too much. She would much rather have her music dominate whatever conversation is to be had.
“Talkin’ is not my thing,” she said. “It gets you into trouble.”
A superstar who is still humble, NdegéOcello said she “Sometimes struggles with accepting the good. Please know that I am grateful you listen to the music.”
NdegéOcello, who lives in New York, added that she was “filled with gratitude in this strange land called LA.”
Her latest and 12th CD is titled, Ventriloquism, which covers 11 R&B and pop tracks originally recorded in the 1980s and 1990s. She said the music came at a dark time when her father had passed and her band member Chris Bruce’s father had also passed. She said the covers were an opportunity to pay a new kind of tribute.