Listen, sometimes a girl’s just got to dance. Should you not find yourself at home alone in front of the mirror in your underwear on such occasions, there is no better place to dance it out than at a Fitz & The Tantrums concert. So I splurged and that is precisely what I did last night at the Music Box in Hollywood. Lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick, while channeling an aesthetic halfway between David Bowie and Annie Lennox (is that redundant?), catapulted fans into an unmatched explosion of entertainment. Simply put: the band knows how to put on a show. No fog machines or Katy Perry blow up flamingos – just that magical mix of talent, charisma, and showmanship. Never have I seen a band THAT excited just to play, not more intimate or engaged with its audience; The audience serenaded Fitz with “Happy Birthday” when the band brought out a cake, not to mention there was a house-backed Eurythmics’ cover at the encore that would have made Annie Lennox herself smile.
The band’s sound pays homage to the great soul groups of Motown; flutes, horns, and organs abound. It is a true testament to the band that their wink to our musical past never borders on parody – it is sincere, a hand off of the baton. Last night Noelle Scagg’s layered vocals were like a Martha Reeve’s heatwave, adding a sultry refinement to the band’s vintage sound particularly on the “Pickin Up the Pieces”. Not to detour too much, but as a Poor Girl, I also can’t help but marvel at how apropos “Dear Mr. President” is. Lyrics that resonate in an uncanny way.
While the group’s roots are clearly with Detroit’s finest, the group’s music is updated with more potent lyrics and harder driving beats than its predecessors. A smart tweak to an otherwise classic style which helps satiate the tastes of today’s demanding and electronically inclined audience. This musical cross-pollination of sorts, would seat Fitz & The Tantrums at the same high school lunch table as Mark Ronson and the late, great Ms. Amy Winehouse.
At the show’s close, the band was so genuinely grateful that they hung out for meet-and-greets at the merch booth. Sure I would have loved an autographed vinyl copy of Pickin’ Up the Pieces or a picture with the band, but did I want to participate in a Running of the Bulls, Music Box style? Fighting my way through the hot and sweaty mess that the theater had become during this 60 minute American-Bandstand-meets-Bootie-LA dance session did not seem enjoyable. I’m petite and therefore can easily be swallowed whole by a crowd. Not to worry. Although I walked out into the LA night without any such goodies, in some twisted act of kismet I would get another chance at redemption in just a few short hours.
What are the odds that on the very next morning I would look up from my LA Times crossword and my $6 lemonade (made from gold-plated lemons, of course) to find Mr. Michael Fitzpatrick right in front of me? I asked, and he graciously agreed to take a picture with me. We exchanged comments about how awesome one another’s hair was and chatted about the merits of my designer namesake, and somewhere in between I got my picture with Fitz. A fabulous cap on an evening of fantastic music. Sweet dreams are made of this.