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Concert Reviews:
Show goes on for Rodriguez despite "Sugar Man" director's death

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2014

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DETROIT -- Rodriguez was in shock on Tuesday night, May 13. But the show went on at the Masonic Temple Auditorium, and in as fine a form as the Detroit singer-songwriter has shown in these parts since the Academy Award-winning documentary "Searching For Sugar Man" raised his profile to that of an international icon.

Rodriguez learned before the show of the death of "Sugar Man" director Malik Bendjelloul at age 36 in Sweden. He chose not to say anything about it during his 80-minute show at the Masonic, but afterwards he noted that, "It's a shock. I just found out about it a couple of hours ago. He was a very talented man and hard-working artist -- he proved it by hitting an Academy Award his first time out.

"My deepest condolences to his family. Rest in peace."

Rodriguez's real tribute to Bendjelloul and his role in reviving the troubadour's career was unspoken -- a solid and uplifting performance that was tighter and more focused than those he's done during the past couple of years, with far less between-song chatter and more emphasis on the music. Clearly driven by a hot new band of overseas musicians, particularly versatile British guitarist Ed Coonash, Rodriguez ran through 20 songs, including favorites such as "Climb Up on My Music," "I Wonder," "Forget It," "...The Establishment Blues" and the moving "To Whom It May Concern."

Dressed in black and sporting his familiar hat, Rodriguez also laced the show with covers that both complemented his original songs and illuminated their roots, including Nina Simone's "Love Me or Leave Me," Little Richard's "Lucille," Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes" and Frank Sinatra's "Learnin' the Blues."

This being Detroit, of course, there were a few nods to Rodriguez's home town. "Some guys say they're from the motherland, some guys say they're from the fatherland. I'm from the MAIN land," he said early in the show, later referring to Detroit as "this holy city." He also greeted the spirited audience's calls with a self-deprecating, "I know it's the drinks (talking), but I love you back."

And Rodriguez could rest assured that all of those sentiments were as heartfelt as his own performances.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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