Bonnaroo Saturday 2012: D’Angelo Returns, Alice Cooper Goes Gaga
When fans at Manchester, Tennessee's massive musicfest Bonnaroo headed to This Tent at midnight on Saturday for the Roots' "Superjam," they naturally expected to see some special guests. But they didn't know just how special, until the band's drummer ?uestlove announced, "I've been waiting 12 years to say this. Ladies and gentlemen...D'ANGELO!" And out strutted the legendary, reclusive neo-soulman, confirming the day's ongoing Twitter rumors and making his first U.S. stage appearance in more than a decade.
D'Angelo, aka Michael Eugene Archer--perhaps as famous for flaunting his fabulously chiseled naked torso in that music video for "Untitled" as he is for last album, 2000's landmark Voodoo--looked in fine form, rocking a black tank top, short dreadlocks, and a quiet smile. (In a shocking police mugshot from 2010, when he was arrested for propositioning an undercover cop, he'd appeared bloated and unrecognizable.) And more importantly, D'Angelo sounded spectacular. He didn't perform any new tunes from his long-awaited (and long-delayed) third album, but as he shifted between keys and guitar, he and a nine-piece band featuring bass legend Pino Palladino and the Time's Jesse Johnson treated stunned spectators to an epic set of classic funk and rock--including Jimi Hendrix's "Have You Ever Been To Electric Ladyland" and "Power Of Soul," Funkadelic's "Funky Dollar Bill," and "Hit It And Quit It," Sly & The Family Stone's "Babies Makin' Babies," the Beatles' "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window," Led Zeppelin's "What Is And What Should Never Be," and the Time's "My Summertime Thang." Fans in This Tent were practically openly weeping, almost not believing what they were witnessing, as this most super of Superjams went on for an amazing 75 minutes.
The notoriously shy 38-year-old singer, who has only conducted one interview (with GQ) since 2000 and has battled the law, drugs, and his record label over the years, didn't engage in much stage banter, other than quite rhetorically asking, "Do y'all want us to go home yet?"--a silly question that of course was met with an audience unison chant of "NOOOOOOOOOOO!" Eventually D'Angelo and friends called it a night, with ?uestlove proudly telling the crowd: "You were here! You saw it!" But D'Angelo will return to the U.S. concert scene next month for New Orleans' Essence Music Festival, and supposedly he'll be releasing that postponed third album before the year's end. Judging from the reaction that his comeback received at Bonnaroo, there are a lot of people who are waiting to buy that album and are happy to see him finally return.