Soul singer Mayer Hawthorne was on a mission to make Boulder, Colorado feel good Monday night when he played a set for the Yahoo On the Road concert series at the Boulder Theater. The Ann Arbor, Michigan, native wooed the audience, fusing his Motown era influences with hip-hop and rock classics.
Hawthorne thoughtfully worked songs from Aerosmith, Bell Biv DeVoe and KRS One into the set list without losing the continuity of his show.
Below, watch video highlights of the night's clever pairings:
"The Walk" and "Walk This Way" – One of Hawthorne's best guitar moments was during his rendition of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way." He started the song off with its famous electric guitar riff. He stuck with the original music and vocal production, singing the lyrics in the same fast-paced fashion Steven Tyler does on the legendary track. What was clever, however, was how he segued the song into his own record, "The Walk," a sendoff ode to an ex-girlfriend. Hawthorne took delight in urging his former lover to "walk your long legs baby out of my life."
"Crime" and "Sound of Da Police" – Hawthorne was magnetic on stage as he delivered his current single "Crime." For a portion of the song, he and his guitarists slid from left to right as the crowd bobbed their heads along. He added dramatic effect to the messaging that partying is not against the law by using as a metaphor KRS One's "Sound of Da Police," a song about officers who harass minorities without cause. As Hawthorne sang the lyrics from the 1993 rap record, he and his guitarists simulated running from authorities and ended the routine with sirens and turning their backs to the audience, assuming the position of arrest.
"Designer Drug" and "Poison" – When singing "Designer Drug," the band made a brief departure to play Bell Biv DeVoe's "Poison" which tells a similar cautionary story about an attraction to a corrupt woman. The mash up felt like a remix that maintained the 1990s hip-hop anthem's vocal arrangement and "Designer Drug"'s funky, bass guitar-driven music.
Bonus Highlight: Hawthorne's Drum Solo – The band closed "Designer Drug" with the drum sequence, making a perfect transition into the percussion opening for "No Strings." Hawthorne grabbed a set of sticks and played the low tom drum for the tribal intro before returning center stage to sing his plea for a carefree rendezvous.