Iconic singer & songwriter Eric Roberson graced the stage of Alexandria’s legendary music hall, The Birchmere, on Saturday, February 9th. As an avid concert-goer, I’ve had the pleasure to see Eric live numerous times since my introduction to his concerts twelve years ago, which ironically occurred at The Birchmere. Every music fan has an artist; they will always shell the money out to see live, whenever there’s a performance in their town, and for myself, Eric is one of those artists.
Eric opened this show with the lead single “Mark on Me ” from his ninth album, 2014’s The Box. A sultry slow jam, “Mark on Me ” was the perfect way to start the evening. Providing a pristine vocal, while staying in sync with his band, the song showcases Eric’s bailiwick ability to write a song. The inspiration for “Mark on Me ” came from the relationship between Eddie Murphy and Robin Given’s character from the 1992 film Boomerang. The highlight of the opening song for me was during the song’s bridge, Eric and his background singers D-Mo and Aaron synchronized choreography, which was a homage to seventies soul groups.
After the opening number, the band made an effortless transition into another selection from The Box album, the up-tempo “I’m Not Trying Keep Score No More.” What I respected about the opening two numbers was the positive subliminal message in the first two songs. “Mark On Me” is about the effect a woman can have a man on when he least expects it, while “I’m Not Trying Keep Score No More,” has this same man, ready to make that commitment to his special lady. Eric then let the audience know he was going to try and do at least one song from every album.
The selections the audience had the pleasure of hearing from the journey through Eric’s catalog included the Phylicia Rashad tribute, “Claire” from his Wind album, and the emotional ballad “Just a Dream” from his “The Appetizer” album. The Stevie Wonder Esque “Rain on My Parade” from his Esoteric album was another highlight. Eric also gave the audience previews of two new songs, “Leave It In” and “Vital,” from his forthcoming album, Late Night Session.
The highlight of the trip down memory lane for me, though, was Eric’s performance of “Pretty Girl” from his fifth album, the 2007 release ….Left. Arguably one of Roberson’s signature live songs, “Pretty Girl,” features production by the late great J.Dilla. Before the show, I had a chance to interview Eric and spoke about Dilla’s talent. Dilla, who passed away in 2006, would’ve celebrated his 46th birthday on February 7th, so for his fans in the audience, the performance of the song was very heartfelt.
No Eric Roberson show is complete without Eric making up a song on the spot with words provided from the audience. Some of the terms included sign language, long island ice tea, and Oprah’s best friend, Gail. It’s a fantastic thing to see done live, and Eric truly is a musical wordsmith.
I’m a firm believer to appreciate a musical artist’s talent and vision truly, you have to see them live. With a dedication to his craft, Eric Roberson’s live game is the standard I set when it comes to concerts. If Eric is ever in your town, I highly recommend taking the time to check out his live show.
Final Grade A +