Janelle Monae: 9.April.2010 – New York

Power to the androids! Self-proclaimed “thrival” Janelle Monáe recently descended upon New York City to preview The Arch Android, her forthcoming follow-up to 2008’s Metropolis Suite I: The Chase, which updates the story of Cindi Mayweather (Android #57821) and her adventures in Metropolis.

At Joe’s Pub, Janelle Monáe possessed even more drive and confidence than her 2008 debut appearances. Her typically epic opening medley was capped off with “Locked Inside”, which wafted over the audience like a salted sea breeze. It’s destined to be the “summer song” of 2010. If Monáe’s performances of “Cold War” and “Tight Rope” were any indication, The Arch Android might even surpass its predecessor as the mirror to Monáe’s genius. With a wink towards James Brown’s histrionics, Monáe knelt on the stage floor with a cape and stirred the audience to a frenzy on the latter tune. Call her The Godmother of Android Funk.

Throughout her ten-song 60-minute set, she leapt from the stage onto table tops while dancing in her distinct freeze-frame choreography, simultaneously summoning notes with a multi-octave voice. She fed the audience’s appetite for the familiar during the final third of the show with “Sincerely, Jane”, “Violet Stars/Happy Hunting”, and the Grammy-nominated “Many Moons”. White balloons fell from the sound booth and bobbed among the audience, most of whom rose to their feat in the traditionally reserved and seated venue.

Accompanied only by a drummer, guitarist, and keyboard player, Monáe is one of the very few performers who can successfully translate a stadium-size personality to an intimate venue. From the soles of her two-tone saddle shoes to the top of her towering pompadour, Janelle Monáe remains a most formidable talent.

Four-piece Atlanta-based rock band The 54 opened the show with an infectious set of energetic rock that begged for just one or two more songs beyond their brief but memorable opening slot.