Photos: Reginald Duvivier
Crossing through Columbus Park in NYC’s Chinatown, one would not expect to find a packed den anticipating the return of Dan Black and his upbeat synergy of music. Amidst the rowhouses of Mulberry Street, behind the out of place red door of Le Baron, that is exactly what one found. After an extended absence, he wowed the crowd with a mix of old and new that perfectly capture why the place was in such a frenzy to see him. Deftly moving through 10 songs, he never lost a step and got hands raised in a venue where movement was at a premium.
As soon as he graced the stage, Black had the crowd’s attention. Some credit was definitely due to his band, two individuals donning a bear and rabbit mask respectively. (We later learned their names were Mikey and Rabbit). Together, they blasted through an set of energizing music that utilized a dizzying array of instruments. The first song was a new one and from the start, you could sense that Black was happy to be back on the stage and proud of his new work. Tentative at first, the crowd warmed up to ‘Plastic Heart‘ just based on Black’s sheer ebullience. Black then moved to material the crowd was more familiar with including ‘U + Me‘ and his breakthrough song ‘Symphonies‘. He continued to weave between old and new, getting the crowd to participate in ‘Pump My Pumps‘ while also doing a bit of wooing with the new ‘Blow It All Away‘. His airy falsetto was well used throughout the set of power synth pop. He even showcased his inspiring cover of Missy Elliott’s ‘Pass That Dutch‘.
Even after the explosive expense of energy, Black graced the stage for an encore with the ethereal ‘Ecstasy’. All in all, Dan Black gave us a conclusive statement that he is still one to watch for. His fresh infusion of multiple elements creates a kinetic soundscape that elicits memories of Wham! and Devo. With new material to drop in 2013, we’ll definitely be looking for more from Mr. Black.