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The Roots at The Apollo Theater, Harlem
253 W. 125th Street
February 22, 2008

Written by Mikel J. McCoy
Photographed by Fred Scott

Opposite Photo: Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter


A show at the Apollo Theatre is a big deal. Whoever is playing the excitement level is at least tripled by the history and the grandeur of Harlem’s landmark theater. So when Heineken teamed up with the Apollo to be the theater’s official beer sponsor and to put on the New Legends Series, a series of concerts, by contemporary ‘legendary’ performers it sounded like a win/win situation. Coupled with the fact that The ROOTS were going to play the first show. Our host came on stage to get the audience sufficiently hyped with calls for New York to stand up and feel what was next. Then a warm up comedian bounded onstage with jokes of the inappropriate sexual organ nature, and got booed right off (this is the Apollo) and the audience doesn’t take bad performances lightly or at all.

 
Questlove or ?uestlove   Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter
 

 

Then, after all the wait, it was time for The ROOTS. After a bit of tuning and checking The Roots were on stage and the audience was ready to hear what it was these “hip hop Impresarios” and Grammy winners were gonna do. Like a funk marching band with their staccato tightness, musical muscularity and featuring a sousaphone player blowing out deep sound bits here, there and everywhere. The ROOTS showed and proved that it is not an accident that they get critical praise or have successfully made nine, working on their tenth, records, and more to the point the wait for them tonight was most definitely worth it. Playing selections from the entire catalog of their past nine records the ROOTS played and when I say play I mean rocked the house for about an hour and a half. Highlights of the show included the Grammy winning hit single ‘You Got Me’. The crowd was fully participating in the show, and from my seat I could see fans singing along and dancing in the aisles. Another highlight of the show and also just an impressive feat by really great musicians were the choices of cover songs. The band intermingled ingenious covers throughout the show including ‘”Push it”, a Salt and Peppa classic, “Deep Cover”, a Snoop Dog/Dr, Dre classic and what I think was a song by Young Jezzy song. ?uestlove the band’s drummer and front man even played “Masters of War” as a tribute and appreciation for the last days of the Bush administration with his three piece side project.

This night with the ROOTS at the Apollo was the first time I’d ever been to the Apollo and it was a dense, funk-filled one. With this just being the first of the New Legend Series Concerts it will be interesting, exciting even to see what’s next

For more information about The Roots: http://www.myspace.com/theroots


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