Concert Review: Shad & Brother Ali at The Danforth Music Hall in Toronto

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For the amount of time my blog has been active, I’ve probably written about Shad the most.  He’s been on a roll lately; opening for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis throughout their Canadian tour, making a surprise appearance at the Manifesto Festival, hosting his new album release-day event in Toronto, and going on tour to promote the new album.  During his initial Flying Colours tour, he sold out the Opera House, a somewhat small venue in Toronto.  While I missed out on this tour, it’s good to see that he’s able to come back just a couple months later and sell out an even bigger venue with this show.  While I’ve seen Shad open for other acts and do mini sets at festivals and other events, I’ve never seen him headline his own show like this before.  Before Shad hit the stage though, we had the treat of seeing Brother Ali perform.

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This was my first time seeing Brother Ali, and I’ve been a decent fan of his for a few years now.  While I’m not familiar with all of his work, I did enjoy his most recent albums: The Undisputed Truth (2007), Us (2009), and Mourning in America and Dreaming In Colour (2012).  Shoutout to my homie Kyle out in Florida, who gave me a Brother Ali playlist to check out so I could somewhat catch up on his older work.  I’ve always heard that Ali puts on an awesome live show, and was excited to finally have the chance to see him.

I showed up a little late to the show and Brother Ali was already on stage when I got inside.  I think I heard him performing “The Preacher”, one of my favourite songs of his while I was going through security.  The crowd was relaxed in a good way as it was easy to pass through and get a good spot up front, even after showing up late.  Brother Ali did a good job rocking the crowd with some favourites off The Undisputed Truth and Mourning in America and Dreaming in Colour, as well as some songs I didn’t recognize.  He also took some time to big up Drake for everything he’s been doing for our city, even though a lot of us like to poke fun at him and boo whenever we hear his name at rap shows.

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Next up was Shad, and he brought out the big guns early for his headlining set.  After coming out to the Flying Colours Intro, he dove right into “Stylin”, for which Saukrates came out to perform with him.  Next he did “Yaa I Get It”, making that my top two favourite songs of his covered in the first three.  He switched up the beats a lot during this song as per usual, except this time he rocked over the beat from “Numbers On The Boards” by Pusha T (who I will be writing a concert review for soon) and “Rigamortis” by Kendrick Lamar.  With a beginning like that, I could tell this set was going to be something special.

Shad went on to perform some of his obvious hits like “Fam Jam”, “The Old Prince Still Lives At Home”, “Exile”, “We, Myself & I”, “Rose Garden” and “Keep Shining”, all with a little live instrumentation from a keyboardist and bassist.  Mixed in between these hits were some special moments though, like when Shad brought out his own guitar to perform the throwback “Rock To It”.  He also did some more obscure tracks like “I Don’t Like To” and “A Milli Vanilli”, and at one point Eternia came out to perform the new Flying Colours track, “Love Means”.  She was cool enough to come out and meet the fans after the show, although I just played cameraman while my crew got to meet her.

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Shad officially wrapped up the show with a performance of his latest single, “Remember To Remember”.  I was kind of hoping Lights would show up to sing the chorus after seeing Saukrates and Eternia make surprise appearances, but she wasn’t there.  After leaving the stage, Shad came back out to do an encore performance with an acapella version of “Epilogue: Long Jawn” and a little freestyle-rap mixed in.  Even without the beat, the crowd knew the words and knew when to yell “f*** Drake“!

It was great seeing Shad progress over this past year from opening for other artists to headlining his own tour.  This time he had his own images on the projector screen, his own surprise guests, and the entire building was filled with people there to see him first and foremost.  Shad fans are fun people too, with not a lot of pushing and shoving in the crowd and just good vibes throughout the night.  After the show, I got to meet Brother Ali by the merch booth.  He’s a real humble dude, as his reputation suggests.  I asked him when his next album is coming out, and while he said he’s unsure, he did say that he has a new mixtape out which I somehow missed out on.  It can be streamed for free here.

For more videos from concerts I’ve been to, Remember To Remember to check out the SYpherSights Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjiIhS7fd3t1ZutK1va7w8g/videos

Also follow me on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/SYpherSights

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. jamilab says:

    What a wicked show! So dope!! Nice review of the night. I agree!!

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