For a Wednesday night, a R&B concert seems hardly ideal considering it’s the middle of the week, people have work in the morning, and when you listen to good R&B, you’re not really trying to sleep – right? Perhaps that’s neither here nor there, but Ro James’ XIIX tour definitely left an impression on Toronto.
Ro, who was recent here with Maxwell, held his first headlining concert at The Mod Club last week and performed for an incredibly mixed crowd. Maybe that’s the power of his music – being able to unite different generations, different races and, in general, people who otherwise wouldn’t be in the same room.
Coming out in a modern day Black Panthers’ fit, equipped with a leather cap, Ro James raise the Black Power salute with a little bit of solidarity shown back. Like I said, it was a mixed crowd. He dove into his 2016 album, effortlessly taking the crowd on a journey. For every song, he had a story – whether it was the car his father gave him that created the skeleton for “The Ride” or “Eldorado,” which spoke to a pretty girl who broke his hear, Ro gave all the feels.
There’s a lot to be said about Ro James’ performance, but there’s equally as much to be said about his openers. Major Myjah, an 18-year old singer, intertwined a high energy performance with massive vocals. “I’m from Jamaica,” he said as he came onto the stage. As suspected, the crowd cheered and gun fingers were raised, but perhaps what they didn’t know is that Major is Bounty Killer’s son – he’s the child of Jamaican royalty, quite frankly. How did he become an R&B singer over moving his father’s legacy forward is unbeknownst to me, but it doesn’t really matter either, considering he’s one of the most refreshing new artists I’ve heard in a minute.
Following Major Myjah was Kevin Ross; an artist with an old soul and a classic stage performance to match. Kevin would be the kind of artist that’d rival The Temptations with his presence, passing the mic from hand to hand and carefully plotting every move he took. I can only imagine what kind of of influences he pulls from – maybe a little James Brown, maybe a little New Edition, maybe even a little bit of Raphael Saadiq, but it’s all appreciated.
The dualities shown that night express the beauty that R&B has to offer – whether it’s traditional performances like Kevin Ross, new school edge from Major Mayjah or that golden sultry bravado from Ro James, it all came together in sonic harmony.
Photography: Tse Daniel