Love Revolution Tour – Lenny Kravitz 11 May 2009, Nice Nikaia

25 05 2009

Lenny Kravitz’s first released album in 4 years, “It Is Time For A Love Revolution” -during 2008 sold approx 1.1 million copies (not bad in this torrent download credit crunch era). This album formed the theme for his world-wide tour that was kick started in USA via a mini tour during 2008.

The mini tour started in Santa Monica, California and ended in New York City. Being the marketing savvy guy (and technology switched on –more on that later) that he is, the tour was done in association with Myspace and called the “Get on the Bus” tour.

Contest winners were eligible to be picked up at each tour stop and ride “the Love Revolution” bus until the end of tour! Cool.

During the year, he suffered from various illnesses and had to postpone and cancel certain gigs.

I was intrigued to see if this 80-90’s icon still has what it takes and planned to attend his Nice south of France concert in May 2009. Technology paved the way and offered amazing support to any curious concert attendee or fan. Tickets were easily obtainable via the web from a wide range of online ticket sellers. Lenny’s Myspace page provides everything you may want, and more – free streaming mp3, links to itunes – to purchase his music, links to Facebook to share event information with friends, links to Youtube to watch his videos, links to ilike, links to fan pages etc you name it, he has it covered- the King in applying Social Web apps use.

Hype was building for his 25 May , 20th anniversary edition album “Let Love Rule” – re-mastered with some new material. Back in 1989, Kravtiz was being promoted as the new Prince or perhaps even the haloed Jimi. This tour would respond and help answer those critics.

With a near sell-out crowd approaching 8000, I made my way to the smart new Nikaia
Stadium, just outside Nice, France. Traffic jammed the roads leading to the gig, adding an additional hour or so to every eager concert goers journey. Planners had failed to factor in large scale parking – and every conceivable road edge, legal or otherwise had been occupied around a 2 km basis. Goodness knows what occurs when the stadium is opened up to accommodate those 50k style shows, such as U2 – July 2009 will unfold and tell the story – watch this space!

Once parked and hiked to the show – first stop the toilets. It was 20.00h the show had just started and already long queues at the ladies, two toilets not working and no toilet paper. Likewise, the bar provided no helpful reprise. More queues, long waits, crazy system of service, low numbers of staff, I’ll say no more. Come on – Nikaia – this is no-way to treat your customers…

The opening act was Chris Cornell. Clearly briefed to warm up the crowd – or more accurately, warm up one’s ear drums. A smallish group of the crowd appreciated his loud shouting, punching air style rock king performance, but for me I passed and took advantage to grab a drink at the less busy bar.

Finally the moment for Lenny to arrive – lots of crowd moshing, chanting and clapping in anticipation – who would have known he had so many French fans?

The stage was simple: No AV screen included – pity for those short people standing… One Liberace style piano, clad in silver mirrored decoration dominated the stage. Washes of green and blue lighting purveyed during the show. Including a neat blue ladder image – go figure.

He rolled out all his hits, using Bolanesque sound to R & B, soul to pure Rock numbers.
His hit “It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over” echoed around the hall as he definitely
engaged with his fans. `He continued to churn out his hits, delivering them with a passion. The mantra-like Love Revolution bounced around the walls with its lame lyrics but held its’ own and captivated the audience with its’ amazing guitar riffs. He bashed through “American Woman” (I wonder if he really understands those lyrics?), and charmed the crowd with “Fly Away” . Then settling into an acoustic set of love songs including the new “I’ll Be Waiting” and “If You Want It.” It certainly worked for the guy standing next to me – he barely came up for air – nuzzling the neck of his blond companion.

He connected further using the old tricks of audience participation – getting the crowd – singing melodies from Pink Floyds’ “We don’t need no education “ and Jackson’s “Billie Jean”. I was impressed that the vast French crowd knew the lyrics and sang along: no sitting on their hands over here!

The people jammed into the Nikaia – mostly 30/40’s crowd, all appeared to be wannabe film directors. Have to admit I haven’t been to a large scale concert in a while, but boy there were more people filming the show with their mobiles and mini cameras than those simply waving their hands waving and clapping. For those standing, at times it was easier to watch someone’s camera /mobile phone screen than the actual stage – especially those using digital zoom.

I should mention his voice. There are performers who can perform LIVE and those who cannot or should not. Lenny definitely falls in the first category. He was truly exceptional. Despite all his throat illnesses of 2008, he has recovered well. He proved he is a great musician and performer: Animated guitar playing, passionate piano performance and genuinely engaging music and vocals. A new Prince – perhaps? I’ll let you decide.

The UK tour is starting on 24 June in Newcastle and closing July 1, 2009 in London – guys you’re in for a treat. Catch it if you can!