Prove your humanity

He’s currently performing nationwide (it’s not his first time, mind you). He has written and performed the vocals for a chart-topping single that you’ve all definitely heard before… heck, one of his most well-known singles was the theme song for a TV series on HBO. This guy has been everywhere and back again… I know his songs, but why did I fail to recognise him by name?

I had the pleasure to see Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III—professionally known as Aloe Blacc—perform at the Chevron Gardens during Perth Festival and, I have to say, his stage presence, effortless charm and soulful voice have left his name sharply engraved in my mind. Dressed in a vibrant green bomber jacket and pork-pie hat, Blacc oozed the charismatic energy you’d only expect from a seasoned performer. There was no doubt in the audience that he was indeed ‘The Man’, and punters were ready for a night of his aspirational-inspirational-motivational tunes.

Blacc showcased his vocals through an array of different songs, including a few covers not on the official set list. The catchy yet cautionary track Hey Brother delved into feelings of love during the highs and lows of a relationship. It was followed by the uplifting melody of Love is the Answer—rich with 70s disco vibes. Blacc also proffered one of his more recent singles, his take on a love story–come-anthem of New York entitled Brooklyn in the Summer, a bittersweet metaphor, lightened up with a punchy beat. The accompanying solos during Loving You is Killing Me also warrant praise, intensifying Blacc’s vitriolic lyrics of a well and truly toxic lover.

The set was not all love hearts and heartbreaks, however. The hotly anticipated performance of his hit I Need a Dollar was as impactful as my first listen several years back and the song still resonates with me. Blacc’s lyrics and voice were moving as he shared not only his story, but his love and raw energy with his fans. Blacc served an amazing take on Stevie Wonder’s Sir Duke that felt totally natural—there’s just something about the warm, familiar and nostalgic nature of funk music that suits him. His rendition of Wake Me Up was a heartfelt commemoration of the late Tim Bergling, best known to you and me as Avicii. The song carries a new meaning since his passing and it was a beautiful tribute, with Blacc’s rich timbre soothing our sorrows and weekday blues, transporting us away from the moment to simpler times.

Something I loved was how Blacc broke up the set with asides, opening up about his creative process and the challenge of being a songwriter: to make something evergreen that can stand the test of time, expressing his deep desire to comfort, motivate, inspire and enable celebration to those in need. Quite frankly, I require these things on a regular basis!

I got to see new sides of Aloe Blacc and no joke, the guy has amazing pipes and his accompanying band was second to none—truly world class. To me, it kind of feels like the public are sleeping on him…. I would argue that we were not yet worthy of his show but rather, we were blessed with, as Blacc himself put it,  ‘a night of participation: to sing, to dance and to party’. I’ll be sure to follow the man’s journey and I hope you will as well.


Follow Aloe Blacc on Twitter at @aloeblacc and listen to his Perth Festival playlist here on Spotify.