Terence Trent D'Arby and the Bojangles in concert at the Salt Palace Exhibition Hall Monday 7:30 p.m. One performance only. Opening act punk comedian Theron Read.
Despite less than capacity attendance at Exhibition Hall, Terence Trent D'Arby and the Bojangles strutted and shimmied their way through nearly two hours of soul-wrenching rock 'n' roll in an impressive Salt Lake debut Monday night.D'Arby, a London-based Yankee transplant who reaped instant success in England last year after the release of his debut album, has the U.S. music industry buzzing. The album, "Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D'Arby," has been a heavyweight on the charts with the single "Wishing Well" sustaining longevity in the Top 10.
Widely accused of being somewhat arrogant (he calls himself a genius and claims his album rivals the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper recordings), D'Arby carries that haughty, detached attitude with him on the road. He's definitely got the right equipment for the job just seems to be a little short on humility and sincerity.
D'Arby opened his energetic set Monday with a blistering run through the Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash." Although the sound mix was muddy at first, most of the problems were resolved by the second number, a funked-up, sax-heavy "Soul Power."
D'Arby is backed by a tight, sixmember band, the Bojangles, and two white male backup singers who grin their way through hokey Temptations choreography.
Donning shredded jeans and black leather, D'Arby and his group received more response from extended versions of two single releases, "Wishing Well" and "If You Let Me Stay," than from other album cuts. Dreamy and hypnotic "Sign Your Name," the next single to be released, was also a crowd pleaser.
Although those who swarmed around the relatively small Exhibition Hall stage seemed to be a rather eclectic group, there was one unifying trait a curious desire to witness Terence Trent D'Arby, a fresh voice in the music hoi polloi who's pioneering a new, upwardly mobile brand of soul.
D'Arby is solid in his songwriting capabilities, penning all but one of the songs on the album. But his true art medium is the intricate vocalization that has deep roots in a broad cross-section of American soul from Motown to James Brown. He glides adventurously between pristine falsettos and gritty, Tina Turner groans. D'Arby's album is very much a showcase of his vocal deftness, as was Monday's concert.
On stage D'Arby attempts classic dance twists and struts you'd expect from Mick Jagger, James Brown and Prince, and he exhibits great potential as a performer despite his lack of show business experience. Although Darby's current footwork efforts are entertaining, they are yet stiff and mechanical. Unfortunately, this self-consciousness is reflected in the band, whose members seem perpetually on the verge of genuine emotion but are only occasionally letting go and taking initiative on stage.
The Bojangles add great depth to concert renditions of D'Arby's music, but tend to use big finishes and stop-and-go techniques to excess in trying to milk the crowd's interest. Smokey Robinson's "Whose Lovin' You," the last song in the set, was terribly drawn out to the point of self-indulgence. Redemption came, however, in the only encore with a thrilling performance of "Under My Thumb" that makes Jagger's best efforts appear marginal.
More than anything, D'Arby seems driven by a desire to be respected as a successful and important musical artist. He has made one of the most impressive debuts of any performer in recent past and Monday's concert is a good indication that D'Arby will be an eloquent defender of the hardline for quite some time.
Unfortunately the show, overall a pleasurable experience, did include unecessary profanity and blatant sexual references that detracted from the music.