It’s always interesting to see two different microcosms of fans come together for a show. You can never anticipate how they are going to respond being subjected to music outside of their usual comfort zone. Janelle Monae and Nate Ruess were brought together as a thank you for the whole Summerstage season. There were no new albums to promote, nor new material to play, but both the artists were more than applicable for the summer-like temperatures in Central Park. This was a show that made you want to move.
Nate Ruess, in his usual, energetic fashion played a slab of hits from his solo effort and fun. days like “Some Nights” and “Nothing Without Love”. Ruess had announced that this was his last show for a while, much to the sadness of the fans that had come up to the front row. There was a collective “awww” that permeated throughout Summerstage.
However, if you were there, you were treated to an hour-long set where the singer held nothing back. When Ruess played “We Are Young”, knowing that this was his last show for a while, it was more like last call at your favorite bar with all your friends. Hopefully we see Ruess back on the stage soon.
If you were in the mood to dance, then Janelle Monae’s set provided the rhythms that kept the front and back rows moving throughout the night. The covers of James Brown‘s “I Feel Good” and The Jackson 5‘s “I Want You Back” fit perfectly with Monae’s own original songs. In her own right, “The Electric Lady” is both a throwback to the Motown era and futuristic in musical view.
Monae had a touching moment during “Cold War”. Dawning a jacket that had the words, “Black Girl Magic” on the back, as the band played the opening chords, she spoke of the current unrest of the election season and needing to be together. On the warm night, to see everyone holding their hands up in unison was a very powerful moment. Music tends to unify people when all seems like it’s coming apart at the seams.
One act seems to be riding off into the sunset for the time being. The other is riding high on positive energy that she is using given more tense moments with the upcoming election. Both gave a great show from their own unique perspectives.