When I was about ten years old I stumbled upon this rocker who seemed a bit odd for the times. He had long dreadlocks and dressed funny. At the time you probably would have only seen reggae artists with this look, but this was Lenny Kravitz (the guy that stole my childhood crush Lisa Bonet), but after hearing his music as a child it was okay with me, I forgave him. I would sit in my top bunk and look down upon my 12-inch black and white television (I swear this was like 1991 and not 1960) and the video was “Are You Gonna Go My Way” with Cindy Blackman on Drums and Craig Ross on guitar.
Last Friday at the Fonda Theatre, I was truly in the presence of excellence. For some ungodly reason I underestimated Kravitz, I figured he was just going to come in play a set of songs get paid and leave; but it was quite the contrary. Instead Kravitz, Blackman, Ross, and the rest of the band made love to each and every member of the audience last night. You know when you go to a show there is a natural progression and then you get to a climax and sometimes you are left with wanting more, and sometimes you are satisfied and sometimes you are ready to get the hell out of there. Well, this show was a little different.
The evening started with doors opening at 7:30pm and there was a two-hour set of anticipation, allowing people to get a little liquored up before the main event. The show started at about 9:30pm and he enticed us a bit with “Dirty White Boots” (his rendition), The Guess Who’s classic “American Woman” and then song number three, my personal favorite, “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over”. That is when we were all flustered and tickled inside. There was no more foreplay it was nothing but pure sex on stage and the crowd was in ecstasy. During “Mama Said” the band went into this phenomenal jam session that eventually made you forget that we were still listening to “Mama Said.” Nearing the end of the jam session this girl looked at me and said, “Is this the last song? It can’t be over yet” It was only song five or six of the set. There was no way the show could be over.
Before we knew it, Kravitz got back to the mic and belts out, “and my mama said…” and you were like “holy shit we are still in ‘Mama Said!'”. It felt like we were at the end of the set, clearly we were not.
Eventually he played “Let Love Rule” and it was about a 20-25 min version of the song and he got everyone involved, even Miguel and Bruno Mars. He got the crowd singing the chorus in unison and then decided to hop off stage and sing while managing his way through the crowd. Eventually you saw him on the balcony getting involved with the people he came acroos two people who happened to be Miguel and a guy in a Chicago White Sox jersey. Looking closely you realized it was Bruno Mars. Kravitz embraced both artists. Kravitz gave the mic to Miguel and he serenaded the crowd. Kravitz was going back to floor level and then he reappeared on the balcony and went to Mars and said “Bruno, can you bring us to church?” Mars was being a bit coy at first but took the mic and asked the band to give him “that note” and Mars took over vocals for a minute or two and took us to church with gospel like vocals. Kravitz was extremely elated and embraced Mars and made it back to stage. Lenny finished up the show with “Fly Away” but he had a little more in him and came back to stage and finished us off with “Are you gonna go my way” the song that introduced me to him when I was a kid.
It was quite a spectacular show. The whole night was a series of getting us close to completion and then taking it back a notch only to build it back up. Kravitz doesn’t play often, but if ever given the chance it is not just a show but an experience to be had. I highly recommend getting fucked by Kravitz, I mean this in the figurative sense of course, but i’m sure if you have the opportunity for the literal that will probably be just as good.
Words: Wes Marsala
Photography: Mathieu Bitton