Updated: Jul 12, 2021
Neo-Soul singer Dwele made his debut at Washington D.C.'s City Winery on March 9th. The singer is currently on his "Ivory & Cream Tour." Performing two back to back sold-out shows, Dwele graced the stage like a seasoned professional. I discovered Dwele's music in 2004 when I lived in England as part of my Air Force enlistment.
Fifteen years later and four albums later, I finally had the chance to see him live, and I was very impressed. Dressed in a cream suit with a three-piece band backing him, I immediately begun to think, this is one performer who truly respects the craft of live performance. Too often, R&B singers rely on a D.J. or prerecorded tracks during their shows, but this wasn't the case with Dwele. It was apparent that Dwele knows his band and know how to lead them. Throughout the night, Dwele and his band performed numerous songs from Dwele's discography.
One of the night's highlights occurred when Dwele did an impromptu cover of The Gap Band's classic hit "Outstanding." Instead of just covering the song, Dwele asked the audience for suggestions on remixing the song. The audience was then treated to Dwele experimenting with various music genres, including rock, trap, and of course, hip hop. Given that it was March 9th, the anniversary of The Notorious B.I.G. untimely death, it seemed only fitting that Dwele pays homage to the late great lyricist. Dwele paid tribute by covering the rapper's iconic "Big Poppa."
As the night went on, Dwele showed his own musical skills by playing the piano and the trumpet. I had no idea that he could play any instruments, so I was astonished to hear how talented he was. I also enjoyed that Dwele told the background on some of his songs. Listening to the story behind "Going Leaving" from his Greater Than One gives me a more profound respect for the track and its lyrics. My favorite moment of the night occurred when Dwele pulled two couples on stage to help perform his sultry slow jam "Obey." Dwele then performed "Takes22Tango" and made his into the crowd to dance with the eager female fans in attendance. Dwele closed out his setlist with two of his biggest hits, "I'm Cheating" and "Find A Way."
While I generally enjoyed the show, I must say that I was a bit upset that the songs "What Profit," "I Think I Love U" and "What's Not to Love" were not a part of the setlist. Nevertheless, Dwele proved to be a seasoned performer, and I look forward to attending another one of his live shows.
Final Grade A-