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Issue 1084

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Raheem DeVaughn: Islington Assembly Hall, London 13/9/14

Raheem DeVaughn: Islington Assembly Halls, London 13/9/14
Raheem DeVaughn: Islington Assembly Halls, London 13/9/14 Raheem DeVaughn: Islington Assembly Halls, London 13/9/14 Raheem DeVaughn: Islington Assembly Halls, London 13/9/14 Raheem DeVaughn: Islington Assembly Halls, London 13/9/14 Raheem DeVaughn: Islington Assembly Halls, London 13/9/14 Raheem DeVaughn: Islington Assembly Halls, London 13/9/14 Raheem DeVaughn: Islington Assembly Halls, London 13/9/14 Raheem DeVaughn: Islington Assembly Halls, London 13/9/14

If Raheem DeVaughn had not carved out a successful career as a neo-soul artist, the world of stand-up would surely have beckoned. When the crowd descended on his show at Islington Assembly Hall, few would have expected to be in stitches as the three-times Grammy Award nominee did a surprisingly lengthy impression of a woman’s sex toy. An endearing performer, he brought a level of humour to the evening which few artists would be able to match.

The sex toy impression – and there are fewer stranger sights in music than a singer in centre stage producing a long buzzing noise, to the delight of the audience - preceded a note-perfect delivery of “B.O.B” from his “Love and War: The Masterpiece” album.

The track, urging women to shun battery-powered devices in favour of a real man, was in keeping with the night, an impressive show by one of R&B's smoothest operators. He did not miss an opportunity to interact with the crowd, particularly the women in the venue, and brought howls of delight with his often x-rated suggestions. But this was a performance that was not just about the laughs.

DeVaughn is clearly an artist who enjoys what he does. He bounded around the stage as Curtis Mayfield’s “The Other Side of Town” resounded from the speakers, before launching into “Bulletproof”, which features the hook from the classic track.

If his records showed Devaughn has an impressive vocal range, his live show confirmed it. The audience fell silent as he performed faultless falsettos on “Woman” and “Bedroom”.

A stripped-down acoustic version of “Ridiculous” was another highlight, and “You” from his 2005 “The Love Experience” album highlighted the artist’s impressive back catalogue.

There were also odes to R. Kelly, with a lively version of “Bump N Grind”, and Jodeci, whose “Freak You” was given a DeVaughn reworking. And The Floacist, UK artist Natalie Stewart, was an unexpected guest on the stage, drawing applause from the audience with an impressive vocal performance.

DeVaughn, whose debut album was released nearly 10 years ago, clearly has no intention of slowing down. He announced that he is working on upcoming album “Love, Sex and Passion”, a follow-up to latest release “A Place Called Loveland”. On the strength of this show, it will be well worth catching him when he returns to the UK.

PHOTOS: DAVE BURKE
Words Dave Burke

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