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Concert Reviews:
Roots gift Fillmore fans with energetic Holiday Tour show
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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DETROIT -- The Roots' Holiday Tour stop Friday night, Dec. 27, at the Fillmore Detroit did not feature any songs or trappings of the season.



But the veteran Philadelphia hip-hop troupe and NBC "The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon" house band still gifted fans with a Santa's sleigh full of music, a generous and at times exhausting jam that seldom stopped through the course of its tightly arranged two-hours and 20-minutes.



Following a sample-heavy DJ warmup by Jeremy Ellis, frontman Black Thought (Tariq Trotter) shouted out to the family of the late J. Dilla and Detroit rappers T3 of Slum Village and Black Milk and promised "we're gonna have a good time tonight." That was no lie as the group slammed into "Respond React." That kicked off a show full of welcome deep dives into the Roots' 26-year, genre-blending recording catalog, storming through the likes of "Game Theory," "Section," "Concerto of a Desperado," "Dynamite," Conception," "What They Do," "Next Movement," and a sleek mash-up of "Think Twice" and "Looking at the Front Door," throwing jazz and rock flavors underneath the taut beats and fluid rhymes.



And, per usual, the Roots offered a bit of history lesson with its mid-show "Hip Hop 101" medley, which included a quick tribute to the late Nate Dogg among its offerings.



While Black Thought and drummer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson provided the musical and visual fulcrum for the night, the set also showcased the other Roots' musicality. Guitarist "Captain" Kirk Douglas followed "You Got Me" with an extended solo, while bassist Mark Kelley bridged "Next Movement" and "Stay Cool" with one of his own. Trumpeter David Guy and saxophonist Ian Hendrickson-Smith blasted soulful features during "Conception," "think Twice" and "Web," and Tuba Gooding Jr. (Damon Bryson) put the sousaphone (borrowed from a local music school after his went missing on the flight in) out front during a rendition of the J.B.'s "Gimme Some More."



Questlove and percussionist Stro Elliott, meanwhile, engaged in a muscular jam during "Apache," part of a furious attack filled with dynamic teases before Black Thought directed the show to an end.



There were likely some at the Fillmore who would have been happy if the Roots never stopped on Friday. But even they couldn't have left the theater feeling anything less than satisfied and sated with this holiday season "present" from the indefatigable band.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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