Lenny Kravitz

Published on October 23rd, 2014


Lenny Kravitz PureHoney

So what is it like being part of a small group of people invited to a party to watch Lenny Kravitz perform with a full band for a live video shoot? You can say it was pretty cool. You can say I should consider myself the envy of many a much-more deserving Kravitz fan. But I went as an unbiased music journalist (though they did have free drinks at the event). As an ambivalent Kravitz fan, aware of him from his breakout early ’90s era on MTV but far from a follower, I think it means something to say I was pleasantly impressed by this show.

The party was booked in order to shoot video for a series of on-line videos of live performances that will appear episodically on a music series called “Soundcheck.” Their version of Kravitz’s 10th album Strut (out today) will feature all the songs played that night as digital downloads. Here’s a tease for it:

It stands as true testament to the professionalism of one hell of a talented musician and his band that they could put on a six-song show with a technical prowess that speaks to their strengths as a live band. I’m sure what fans will see on the exclusive will not be too different from what we saw that night at Ice Palace in Miami, on August 26. Every song was recorded in a single take. Even “Strut,” which Kravitz introduced as a song he had never played live until that night came across as flawless. He apologized in advance if he screwed up the words and noted that they could always start over again. They didn’t need to.

It being Miami — where Kravitz has a house — the show began an hour late, and those who showed up a bit before 7pm, as we were told, had to spend almost an extra hour standing outside. At one point we were told to not bring any cell phones inside at the request of Kravitz, so everyone had to go back to their cars to hide their phones. Most everyone complied and got back in line. I did notice one person who was somehow able to sneak a phone in.

Lenny Kravitz PureHoneyWhile in line, someone close to the venue said they had spent a week preparing for this. When we got in, you could see where the work went. The “stage” was a floor with a wall of soft orange lights framing a large digital screen as a backdrop. Though brightly lit, they set still looked like a Bohemian studio that fit the Kravitz ethos. There were also cameramen everywhere. Three sat or hung from a camera that moved along a track at the front of the set. There were also two stationary cameras on either side, three cameramen who would walk among the musician and even a camera on a crane.

I had feared we would not be able to see much due to all this equipment, but we got so close, we could still see all the action on stage, standing just a few feet from Kravitz himself, at the same eye level and all. All we had in front of us, besides the cameras and a tiny rope were two short girls. There was no crowding with the one hundred or so people inside the venue and no camera phones blocking the view, so this would stand as one of the most comfortable live shows I have attended in recent memory.

Finally, the music. The band came on first. Besides the basic drums, guitar and bass set up, it also included a horn section and a trio of backup singers. After everyone settled into position, Kravitz came out to polite applause and cheers, and they kicked the set off with “Always On the Run.” Kravitz knows his roots, and he would offer a nice balance of old, key hits and promising new material. Two new songs followed, “The Chamber” and “Dirty Lenny Kravitz PureHoneyWhite Boots.” To be honest, they sounded better live than on the record. So here is where we give props to drummer Cindy Blackman and bassist Gail Ann Dorsey, one of the today’s great rhythm sections. They delivered tight work and both had showcase moments on these new songs. The best bass line of the night came from “The Chamber,” and it wasn’t buried in the mix, as it is on the record. Then, Blackman, kicked off “Dirty White Boots” with powerful and original stick work.

Still, the classics were the highlights, and two major ones made appearances. “Let Love Rule” followed the two new songs. For the final song, only Kravitz, Blackman, Doresy and Kravitz’s longtime guitarist Craig Ross stayed on stage. Our star slipped on a Gibson Flying V and ripped into a powerful rendition of “Are you Gonna Go My Way.” Stripped away of all the other supplemental musicians, it served as a reminder of the strong basic magic that underlies Kravitz’s songwriting, and there’s just no better way to experience it but live. In such an intimate setting, it just reminds me of how good a musician and torch-bearer to raw, real rock Kravitz is.

~ Hans Morgenstern, IndieEthos   |   indieethos.wordpres.com

You can watch some the performance online by visiting THIS LINK

Expect a three-episode series with individual episodes released weekly. Episode 2 should appear next week. Also, Kravitz is giving away a signed electric guitar HERE