@ Newcastle o2 Academy, June 24 2009
It’s safe to say 11 million people can’t be wrong and when that many folk fork out for a copy of your Greatest Hits record you know you’re doing something right.
Lenny Kravitz has been doing almost everything right ever since his record label packed him off to the proving ground that is the UK music scene. Like Kings Of Leon 20 years on, America was slow to pick up on one of rock’s most eclectic talents but us Brits have always had a soft spot for one of the coolest performers on the planet.
Right from the off this show benefited from an underlying groove which gave every song a lift. On the back of shifting so many Greatest Hits albums, Kravitz could easily have blasted through the classics as they sound on CD and the majority of those present would have walked away happy. Instead all of his trademark tunes were given space to evolve with I Belong To You and Let Love Rule were transformed from weepy ballads into sprawling rock epics.
Kravitz may be a late 80s phenomenon but his heart has always belonged to the decade of his teenage years. As a kid of mixed race exposed to the cultural melting pot that was 1970s Los Angeles, he discovered Aerosmith, Kiss, Cream and Led Zeppelin. This was a two-hour jam session dedicated to those influences and it’s unlikely Lenny has ever sounded better live.
Of course he continues to stick with reliable wing man Craig Ross – the lanky dude responsible for the riff on Are You Gonna Go My Way and a guitarist lauded by fellow musicians and fans alike. With his Tommy Aldridge-style barnet and brilliant rock poses, here is one hairy guitar hero capable of giving Slash a run for his money. Ross and Kravitz make an addictive team and for as long as they share a stage together the creative sparks will fly.
Or Fly Aaway. Again the assembled musicians managed to raise the mundane soundtrack to a TV advert to an astonishing new level – for once it actually sounded like a song worth listening too. And there were others that fell comfortably into the same bracket. Whether rocking along to an incendiary performance of American Woman or immersing themselves in a heart aching version of It Ain’t Over…, a mesmerised crowd was in Kravitz heaven.
Two encores tantalised the masses as the smell of sweet perfume gave way to a hazy cloud of raw perspiration. If the ladies in the house were overcome then the men were overawed – if you were looking to create sex on legs then you’d have to clone Kravitz. He’s still got it but it’s time he gave it to us more often.
The history of rock is littered with tales of stunning comebacks and after his last record, 2008’s It Is Time For A Love Revolution, failed to make an impression on a sceptical UK fanbase Kravitz is on a mission to reclaim the hearts and minds of his most loyal backers. On this evidence it won’t be a difficult job.