Concert Review: Lenny Kravitz rocks Toronto show with a brief 11 song set


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Lenny Kravitz served up an entertaining-but-short set that featured just 11 songs at the ACC earlier this week.

Image: Flickr / Larry Darling

I have long cited Paul McCartney’s two shows at the ACC in August of 2010 as being the best shows I’ve been fortunate enough to attend. I’m not telling you this because of his return engagement on Oct. 17th (woo-hoo!), but because what made those shows so great was the perfect balance of quality and quantity. The quality came from Macca’s anthology of Beatles-heavy music and still-potent musical chops, while the quantity came in the form of uninterrupted, three-hour, 38-song set lists.

Both quality and quantity are identifiable when they are present, but are particularly noticeable when one is absent. Fast forward to Wednesday night’s Lenny Kravitz show at the Molson Amphitheatre, which oozed quality from the Manhattan-born rock star but was disappointingly short on quantity.

Kravitz, performing in front of a predominantly female crowd of 9,000 fans who surely wouldn’t have minded a repeat performance from his Stockholm show earlier this month when the crotch of his leather pants ripped open, served up an entertaining-but-short set that featured just 11 songs spread across 1:45 of stage time. Even dragged out with plentiful guitar riffs and interactive elements like a walk through the crowd and inviting fans on stage for a show-closing rendition of “Are You Gonna Go My Way”, there simply wasn’t enough material covered to make the show feel like anything more than a really great supporting set at a music festival. Even Andra Day cranked through 10 tracks during a tight, solid opening set.

The start of the show served to showcase Kravitz as one of the truly great rock and roll performers, betraying his age (51!) and looking every bit the icon of cool with his signature shades, curly perm and nose ring while fully clad in leather. Backed by an exuberant band, he opened with new album offering “Frankenstein” before launching into a consecutive sequence of “American Woman”, “It Ain’t Over” and “Dancing Til Dawn”. Shockingly, he didn’t revisit “Strut”, his latest album release of which the entire tour is in support, after the opening track. Nor did he get around to crowd favourites like “Again”, “Rock and Roll is Dead” or “Can’t Get You Off of My Mind” because, hey, there’s only so much you can cover in 11 songs.

The most frustrating part about Wednesday’s show is how good the brief set actually was, leaving one to wonder how good things could have been if left to simmer a little longer. Kravitz finished with an energetic flourish that saw him do his crowd walk during “Let Love Rule” and then launch into “Fly Away” before closing on “Are You Gonna Go My Way”. But the ovation that followed was less of a crowd satisfied with a great show and more of a group of fans hungry for more Lenny.

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