If “class” and “swagger” had a child, that child would be named Morris Day. Day’s effortless “cool” is an inviting look into a 30+ year career shaped by musical excitement and a flawless live show!
The lights dim at 9:10pm and the band walks out onto The Venue’s beautiful stage dressed in dark suits and sporting fedoras. Drums, bass, two keyboards, and an electric guitar lay down the foundation of a swinging groove as the guitarist takes to the mic and questions, “ARE YOU READY CHICAGO?”. The sold out crowd erupts and jumps to their feet. The music intensifies and the lights begin to circle. “Please put your hands together for MORRIS DAY!”. Out comes the quint-essential hype man holding a gold framed mirror. Following comes the strutting Morris Day. Hype man and Day reach center stage, mirror is held up, Day pulls out a long comb from the inside of his gold, sparkle, zoot suit coat, the grooming ensues, and the crowd roars!
The opening hit “Get It Up” sets up the theme for the party with lyrics, “Get it up. Get ready for a real good time. I’m going to try to blow your mind.” Within the first 2 minutes of the band’s appearance on stage, you are quickly reminded of the influence Prince had on his high school cohort. The precision of the band’s flawless choreography, the powerful musical arrangements, and the front man’s commanding presence are all credited to Day’s time under Prince’s guiding wing in the late 70′s.
The first three songs were an assault of high energy tracks physically forcing everyone in The Venue to smile, clap, sing, and dance. The dedicated fans bellowed out every single word as Day’s hypnotizing charm drove the musical train through their tenacious set list.
Finally, a “break” is given as the drummer, Jellybean holds down a funky groove and the rest of the band sits back in the cut. Day takes to the microphone and greets all of his adoring fans as he graciously thanks everyone for supporting their career “since 1981”. Once again the crowd screams and smiles grow larger as they are reminded of how long Day’s music has enriched their lives. These fans are hardcore. Men in zoot suites and women dressed to impressed, fans wanted to show their support in every way possible. Men wanted to be him and the women wanted to woo the self proclaimed playboy.
As quickly as they sat down, half of the crowd was brought back to their feet as Day dictated, “Band, hit me 5 times!”. The crack of the snare drum, the synchronized bounce of the band, and the finger points and leg shakes of Day brought the energy in the room up yet another level. Weather you knew the music or not, the simplicity of the lyrics and the message coupled with the inviting depth of the music made the party environment comfortably nostalgic.
The intensity of the set came down 25 minutes in as Day and hype man made their way backstage. The band began teasing a ballad as the bass player asked, “Do you want to sing the slow jams?”. Women shrieked as the band jumped to the intro of another ballad. Day’s voice is heard as he sings the first 3 lines of the song and then apologizes, “I’m sorry you have to hear my voice from back stage right now, but I’m half naked.” Women shrieked even more as the band swells. Day makes is way back on stage with a long tench coat draped over his zoot suit. He brings the crowd and the volume of the band down with his hands, calls for “six hits”, and as directed, the band slams six tight punches as they plow right into “The Bird”. All of a sudden, audience members flood the stage and swarm Day. Emulating a much “cooler” line dance, the make shift back up dancers all follow Day’s lead as they wave their arms and glide their feet to song.
The feeling of an anxious unknown was prevalent through the 55 minute set as the band jumped from one song right into another. The theatrical antics and constant connection to the fans engaged even the security staff who could not resist an occasional shimmy here and there. Day left the stage and returned shortly for the expected encore. There was one more song everyone needed to hear before the night was complete. Day taunted the crowd and asked, “Is there something else you all want to hear?”. Simultaneously, the crowd screamed “YES” as the lights lit up the entire venue. As everyone hoped, the 1983 hit, “Jungle Love” satisfied their musical appetite and the 7 minute extended jam proved to be the climax of the entire set.
Morris Day and The Time are a prime example of artists and performers that continue to do what they love simply because they have to. The live experience is the heart beat of this machine. Sure, appearances in the movies Purple Rain and Jay And Silent Bob are credible, commercial accolades, but you won’t see Morris Day and The Time at the Super Bowl or in a slick car commercial anytime soon. They have stayed tried and true to their niche brand of entertainment and they are not begging to be noticed. In an ever changing industry, genuine passion and hard work have consistently been rewarded through longevity. Long live Morris Day and The Time.
Reviewed by Edmer Abante [a.k.a. MER] on 11/14/12