Reviews > Shows
G. Love in Toronto
In the intimate setting of a packed Opera House in Toronto, G. Love treated his adoring fans to a laid-back, “dirty motherfuckin’ sing-along.” His words, not mine.
Inviting the crowd into his living room, G treated us to a retrospective of his 20 years as a professional musician – he was engaged, animated, loose and entertaining. It was the perfect feel for a Sunday night gig, more blues-lounge than hip-hop.
With his confident, playful stage presence, the funky blues-hop pioneer from Philly showcased his unique style and delved deep into his repertoire of songs. Old-school tunes like “Blues Music,” “Walk to Slide,” “Garbage Man” and “Small Fish” mingled together and meandered through the still-fresh, unmistakable chords of classic hits “Shootin’ Hoops,” “Cold Beverages” and “Rhyme for the Summertime.”
While G’s most popular songs were also some of his first, newer tunes like “Peace Love Happiness,” “Who’s Got the Weed,” “Hot Cookin’” and “Astronaut” had the crowd moving to the funky beats.
Beginning the show seated in a chair front and center, Love moved seamlessly from mellow blues-funk to the more in-your-face, California-rock-hop sound he has come to personify, eventually ditching the chair and trolling the stage lip while shooting looks at the cute girls in the front row.
With an extended version of “Cold Beverages” giving way to “Hot Cookin’” and a little tease of “Heartbreaker” toward the end of the first set – he closed out with an “Astronaut” that had the crowd roaring to sing along, yet teased by the tempo, a la Bob Dylan.
Even without the fantastic support of Special Sauce (Jeff Clemens on drums, Jim Prescott on the upright and electric bass), G. Love more than holds his own on vocals and guitar. Despite the fact (or possibly because of it), G makes room in his performance for his co-musicians to shine, allowing both of them to jam and showcase themselves with the same humor, musicianship and eccentricity he portrays on stage.
Feeding off the love – “Lay down the law, G!” was a regular refrain from the crowd all night – he returned to a darker, more subdued stage for a second set. He returned with a sultry, bluesy and provocative version of “Booty Call” filled with spoken word segues and interaction. The more he played to the local crowd and told stories about his experiences in Toronto over the past 20 years, the more the audience got into it.
Testing out some new material in “Bloodshot and Blue” and “Back to Boston” (he told everyone he would change it to “Back to Toronto” for tonight, asking the rapt crowd “What road would I take to get from New York to Toronto?”) then moving into latest hit “Fixin’ to Die” and “Milk and Sugar” off the new album, fans were once again properly energized for a frantic and energetic “My Baby’s Got Sauce” to close out the show – although, considering how much storytelling and pandering he did during the tune, it was almost a reprise by the time he got back to those classic “Sauce” refrains to close it out.
All in all, it one of the most intimate and entertaining performances I’ve seen from the walking-stylistic-fusion called G. Love.
By covering Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” (off his newest album) and putting his own stamp on it on stage, G has shown just how much he’s matured as a musician and how far from the hip-hop Philly roots he’s come – while staying true to the Cali-sunshine in his soul.
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