D'Angelo Performs Surprise Set at Bonnaroo
R&B Great Takes Part in Questlove's Superjam
The "Superjam" at this year's Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival was billed as Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and his "very special guests," and boy, was that marquee ever accurate. Along with members of Parliament Funkadelic, The Time and his own band The Roots, Questlove welcomed reclusive R&B star D'Angelo to the stage for the singer's first U.S. performance in 10 years early on Sunday morning (June 10).
"I've been waiting 12 years to say this -- ladies and gentlemen, D'Angelo!" Questlove announced as the man himself strolled onstage in a black tank top and jeans, looking more mature but nearly as fit as he was in his "Voodoo" days. Along with D'Angelo, the "Superjam" that Questlove curated featured veteran musicians like bassist Pino Palladino, percussionist Frank Knuckles, saxophonist Eric Leeds and guitarist Jesse Johnson, who all joined the Roots drummer in a "time machine" that recalled his longtime jam sessions at New York's Electric Lady Studios.
D'Angelo alternated between the keyboard and guitar during the 90-minute set, and his only crowd interaction came at the end of the performance, when he asked the roaring crowd, "Do y'all wanna go home yet?" The all-star lineup provided the audience with a history lesson on guitar-driven funk music, covering tracks like Funkadelic's "Hit It & Quit It," The Beatles' "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window" and Led Zeppelin's "What Is and What Should Never Be." The troupe did not perform any D'Angelo songs or new music from the singer.
After the set concluded, Questlove -- who wore a black shirt that read "Bum Rush & Nation & Black Planet & Apocalypse," a reference to Public Enemy's classic albums -- told the crowd that the Superjam performance came together during a six-hour rehearsal period on Saturday. The Roots also performed a 90-minute set on the third day of the festival. The drummer previously took part in Bonnaroo's annual Superjam alongside Ben Harper and Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones in 2007.
D'Angelo has spent the past decade outside of the music scene, forgoing performance opportunities to focus on the long-awaited follow-up to his 2000 album "Voodoo." After returning to the stage with a handful of European dates earlier this year, D'Angelo has been booked to perform at the 2012 Essence Music Festival in July and Jay-Z's Made in America fest in September.