NEW YORK, NY—It was a night of retro rock at the second night of a five day run at The Fillmore at Irving Plaza as Lenny Kravitz and friends sucked off the ‘70s and whipped the crowd into fits of hedonistic howls to a foggy era of shag carpets, lava lamps and stony smiles.
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of his breakthrough Let Love Rule Kravitz took on NYC backed by a stellar seven-piece unit of retrogrades. Straight off the mothership the band borrowed, tweaked and yanked off the best of ‘70s from the cosmic funk of George Clinton’s Parliament to the soulful sanctity of Marvin Gaye with some James Brown thrown in to keep things downtown and dirty. A bit of Hendrix flash and some poppy Beatle-esque choruses combined for an encyclopedic trip through classic rock.
Kravitz looked like a psychedelic shaman up there clad in combat boots, a hippy shirt and love beads giving off an earthly , beatnik vibe. The aviator shades and a four-day bearded shadow added to the allure of Kravitz’s self proclaimed return to these shores after a three-year stint in Europe.
His regular backup band was supplemented by a horn section schooled on the funky bombast of Sly And The Family Stone and Brooklyn’s own Brass Construction. They added spunky, warm and moldy overtones to the bands otherwise straight ahead stomp.
Furry freak brother guitarist Craig Ross, whose got one of the biggest fros ever seen, was the lightning rod to the band’s sonic swirls to the old days when FM radio ruled as they countered Kravitz deft showmanship and peacock strutting badass-ness with some skilled musical chops.
Opening with the soulful dirge “Freedom Train” Kravitz and friends rode the crowd’s wave sprinkling ballads, rockers and cosmic funksters throughout their hour-and-a-half set.
“I Belong To You” was introduced by Kravitz as a number one hit everywhere but America. “Dancin’ Till Dawn” was a moody number that started off slowly, built into a power chorus, took on a sax solo, parts of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and the Floyds’ “Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)” and ended with a Shaft-like grand finale. “American Woman” was a ballsy rocker with an industrial backbeat that Kravitz laced into like an expat taking on the USA’s “wicked war machines and ghetto scenes.”
On “Always On The Run “ he took to his black Les Paul adding some funky crunch to the horn section’s snappy brass fills. “Fly Away,” “Let Love Rule” and “Are You Gonna Go My Way” were the closers that the band ripped through as if they were the last band to play the titanic in a dual guitar onslaught reminiscent of the great Irish band Thin Lizzy.