Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals at The Olympia Theatre, Dublin, 19th March 2019
Anderson .Paak is a funny guy. If we didn’t know that from lyrics like “I been broke way longer than I been rich, so until it levels out/I’ma take your mama to the Marriott and wear it out”, we know it certainly when he tells a noticeably fresh-faced Olympia crowd, “You’ve all grown a lot bigger since last year!”
As per his Twitter handle, Paak’s live persona is very much “Cheeky Andy.” We might take unrelenting fun for granted from an artist whose sound is essentially funk (without the antiquity) blended with hip-hop (minus the aggression); however, to get even the crowd members’ chaperoning parents moving requires astonishingly infectious charisma.
With exuberance the order of the day, Cheeky Andy couldn’t have chosen a more fitting support act. Tayla Parx, best known for ghostwriting much of Ariana Grande’s recent work, provides an effervescent opening without any apologetics.
She informs us exactly who else’s work is “Taylor-made” (the list includes Janelle Monae and Khalid), then moonwalks and smilingly bounds around the stage. Impressive singles I Want You and Me vs Us are sung with fantastic energy and range, and closer attention to Parks feels very much deserved after the performance.
Plus, when Taylor Parks repeatedly tells the crowd how much she loves us, that’s just the start of a two hour-long love-in. Everything about the show from then on is wildly vivacious for our benefit. It starts with a teasing: Paak semi-subtly sets up his drum kit behind a white sheet, his bright orange bucket hat giving him away.
A shrieking outbreak of blue spotlights accompanies the explosive drum solo of ‘Oxnard’ opener The Chase, which gives way to similarly rapid-fire rap numbers Who R U and Bubblin’. Frantic back-and-forth sprints between mic and drum kit ensue, and colossal smoke blasts keep impressive tempo with Paak. He caps off an electric opening four tracks with an early stage dive on some nervous-looking teenagers who, to their credit, hold their own.
There’s something so outstandingly exhausting-looking about Anderson Paak’s grin-filled effort that it actually becomes viral, the crowd working hard to keep up with his full-body workout. They eventually reward him with an “olé olé ole” for his troubles.
A smoother patch in the concert is inevitable though, and subsequent sing-alongs free up space for The Free Nationals’ soulful instrumentation to come to the concert’s fore. Keyboardist-cum-hypeman Ron Tnava Avant’s flying fingerwork is particularly impressive, adding great texture to the rendition of Heart Don’t Stand A Chance.
There is, arguably, such a thing as a “perfect” show, where the vocalist provides a crystal clear showcase of his/her range to an awestruck audience. This is not quite one of those, and deliberately so. Though the spectators seem extremely appreciative of the high quality of music (especially as late renditions of King James and Tints show that this riotous gig has somehow not yet peaked), there’s an air of inclusion rather than sheer reverence inside The Olympia.
It’s a familial, ego-free show from Anderson Paak that gives everyone from Taylor Parks and The Free Nationals to the crowd members a role in the fun; even the closing performance of Dang!, a heartfelt tribute to the late Mac Miller, feels more like a celebration of Mac’s life than a lament. Andy’s Beach Club, as the tour is styled, very much feels like a free-for-all among friends. And it’s just about as much fun as you can have at a concert.