February 14, 2012
Lenny Kravitz: Retro and Proud of It
Authenticity is a precious commodity. It is the coin of the realm in most artistic expression. But it is difficult to define even though most people will say they know it when they see it. The dictionary definition is "not false or copied, genuine, real." It is easy to confuse 'authenticity' with 'originality' when it comes to popular music. I mean 'original' in the sense of new and inventive. These terms can bounce around in your head a lot
when going to a Lenny Kravitz show. The performance by LK in Oakland on Valentine's Day was not new or inventive but it was genuine and a whole lot of fun.
Lenny's music is unabashedly retro. His songs can
sound completely derivative of Steppenwolf, Jimi Hendrix or even Led Zeppelin, basically any 1970s hard-rock outfit. Perhaps LK's biggest hit,
American Woman, was originally written and performed by the Guess Who in 1970. Nevertheless, I think Lenny has an aura of authenticity because he doesn't deny these influences. His attitude in song and on stage is: 'This is me for good or bad.' OK, Maybe I am confusing authenticity with honesty. But there isn't a lot of either these days in popular culture where every reality star seems to have a scripted angle. So, LK's performance was refreshing in its familiarity.
Of course, it also doesn't hurt Lenny's popularity that he looks like a casting agent's dream of a rock star, like he walked out of a poster on to the stage. He's ready-made for superstardom. His good looks are also probably partly responsible for his appearances in popular movies including: Zoolander (one of the funniest movies in the past 10 years), The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and the currently released
The Hunger Games.
Many of Kravitz's songs are not that memorable even though he's had several hits, including Tuesday's highlights, American Woman, Always On the Run, It Ain't Over til It's Over and Let Love Rule. He performed them with zest and the crowd at the Fox Theater was ready and willing to be entertained. The sound quality was also remarkably good. I have complained regularly about the Fox but the mix was great throughout the theater. Also great was LK's horn section. I loves me a good horn section. So, overall, two thumbs up for the LK Retro and Proud show.