The Rebel, The Soul & The Saint Tour took place last night at the Hard Rock Rocksino in Northfield, OH. When the tour was first announced back in the Summer, some raised an eyebrow at the unusual lineup of gospel megastar Kirk Franklin, R&B and Jazz songstress Ledisi, R&B musician PJ Morton and/or newcomer MAJOR.
The show was nothing short of entertaining. MAJOR. started his set a little early as people were still being shown to their seats but he commanded the attention of those who didn't quite know who he was. With his falsetto range in between quick anecdotes informing people that he was supposed to have been aborted however God had a greater call for his life; he was to make a major impact on the world hence his government name of Major. Loud roars erupted as church folks yelled, "Yes" while others put their hands up.
During the show, Ledisi made sure to let everyone know that although she has a "churchy" background she also makes music for those that love "brown liquor". She joked about a "churchy" concert being in a casino and how she's seen it all, that got a few laughs out of just about everyone.
MAJOR. ended his set by distributing roses to a few beautiful women while singing "Honest" and making sure they knew the honest truth. A brief intermission gave people an opportunity to run to the bar, find their seats or grab food. To everyone's surprise, Kirk Franklin appeared on stage with Ledisi to perform Brighter Day with MAJOR. in tow. The trio performed the song flawlessly, seeming to have fun with one another as well as the audience. After the initial song, Kirk Franklin and Ledisi took turns performing songs together in the midst of individual solo sets. Kirk is a ball of energy while on stage; often breaking out into turns, spins, milly rocking, and hitting a Michael Jackson spin a few times. Ledisi disappeared a little early in order to give Kirk the opportunity to do as only he knows how to, and that's have church. He had the "congregation" turning to their neighbor and confessing all of the reasons why they are saying "Bye Bye" to all of the baggage in their lives. Holy ghost good time can we say?
Ledisi later rejoined the stage and with her electrifying voice; she hit rifts, runs, licks and scatted which often resulted in fans shouting out or looking at her in amazement. She laughed and playfully told people that she didn't care what others said about her then she pointed at a few audience members and said, "Ya'll probably talking about me right now, I don't care though." and she continued contorting her face to scat.
Kirk eventually came back to take a moment to tickle the ivories while playing a game of "Do You Remember this one?" with the audience. He hit with songs like "Silver and Gold," "Why We Sing" and "Something About the Name Jesus" while turning into a choir director and motioning for the audience to follow his lead. He often poked fun at those select fans who took it upon themselves to sing out while everyone else was silent.
While Kirk Franklin performed, Sunday Best winner Geoffrey Golden interrupted while singing how happy he was that they were in his city, how much he loved Cleveland and asking the audience if we knew who else he loved? He sang for his girlfriend Rebecca and asked that someone bring her on stage. Kirk egged it on asking him what he was about to do and while Rebecca stood there waiting, Geoffrey told her how much they've been through, reminisced about being high school sweethearts and going through ups and downs through their relationship. He ended it with getting down on one knee and asking if she'd marry him. Ledisi watched from the side as all eyes were on the happy couple. The audience erupted in "Oohs and Ahhs" and got even louder when he slid the ring on her finger. They embraced as she kissed his face over and over. Kirk playfully fussed at them while telling them to get off his stage with "all of that". After they left off of the stage, he jokingly mentioned that since he was licensed he could marry them right now.
Ledisi hit the stage again to perform such songs as "Pieces of You, "I Blame You" and "High". Kirk Franklin closed the show by performing "Smile" while he walked through the audience joking about them not letting him fall and stopping to smile while taking selfies with fans.
The show was amazing and although combining multi-genres on one bill could only be deemed risky by those not knowing that prior to the 1900s gospel music had influenced jazz and blues and after the 1900s jazz and blues were influencing gospel music. Kirk Franklin had an exuberant amount of energy while joking and interacting with the audience; Ledisi wasn't as energetic as Kirk but she held her own when interacting with the audience and welcoming them into her world, newcomer MAJOR. was unapologetically himself while not only embracing his talent but warming up the crowd in a most intimate way.