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Concert Reviews:
Lenny Kravitz lets love rule at Fox Theatre

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Friday, September 6, 2019

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DETROIT -- For 30 years Lenny Kravitz has operated under a credo to "Let Love Rule." And there was plenty of love for the veteran rocker on Thursday night, Sept. 5, at the Fox Theatre, as he returned for his first metro area performance in four years.

Kravitz did acknowledge that "it's been a long time" since he'd been on stage in these parts (at the Meadow Brook Amphitheatre in 2015), and he and his hot seven-piece band made up for that interim with just over two hours of musical synthesis, stirring rock, funk and R&B into a mongrelized attack that nodded unapologetically to forebears such as Jimi Hendrix, Sly & the Family Stone and Prince. To call it contrived or retro, however, would be a mistake; as always Kravitz proved himself an organic and genuine performer, a True Believer whose passion still fires up a room -- even if it gets the best of him sometimes.

Thursday's 20-song show certainly started strong, exploding as Kravitz cranked through "We Can Get It All Together" -- one of four songs played from last year's "Raise Vibration" album -- and "Fly Away" atop a platform above the stage, flanked by tusk-like curved objects resembling the "Stargate" portal and in front of a slatted, Venetian blind-style backdrop. His cover of the Guess Who's "American Woman" vamped into the Wailers' "Get Up, Stand Up," bringing his three-piece horn section on stage, and even the melodic "Fields of Joy" boasted an adrenalized, psychedelic power -- as well as one of Craig Ross' ferocious guitar solos.

Kravitz -- sporting a leather jacket, gold scarf, brown jeans and shades, and no slouch on guitar himself -- also affirmed solidarity with the late Michael Jackson by playing "Low," a "Raise Vibration" track that features a vocal appearance by the controversial late superstar, who Kravitz shouted out after the song finished.

The show took a sharp and dangerous skid, however, during a long coda after "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over," a meandering jam that put the brakes on its forward motion. The sound mix went south just after that, too, pushing the bottom end, and particularly the bass drum, to the fore and burying powerful social statements such as "Mr. Cab Driver" and "Bank Robber Man" in sonic mud. Sheer familiarity got "Where Are We Runnin'?" and a balcony-shaking "Are You Gonna Go My Way" across, but some curious moves -- only a snippet of "Love Revolution" to close the main set and a 12-voice choir for barely 60 seconds on "Here to Love" -- kept things off-kilter before "Let Love Rule" steered the show to a joyous conclusion.

Kravitz did win some favor when he declared that "I'm moving to Detroit!" before "I Belong to You." The fact that his design form is working on the Temple Detroit hotel under construction does mean he'll likely be back before long, and his fans at the Fox on Thursday would certainly hope for a quicker return to the stage as well.

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