Lidell set to scorch the Varsity stage tonight

Lucky souls who caught English singer/producer Jamie Lidell's October 2006 performance at First Avenue know that the man can operate as a venue-destroying, soulful one-man army. Beatboxing, looping and harmonizing with himself, Lidell laid a thick layer of sultry vocals over the whole concoction. Even when he let a CD play instrumental tracks from 2005's Multiply, Lidell belted out both ballads and burners, showing that his vocal chops are stunning in a live setting, not at all the product of cold studio trickery.

Lidell set to scorch the Varsity stage tonight

Some fans were skeptical of Lidell's choice to tour with a four piece band instead of relying on his considerable solo talents, but his scorching performance at this year's Lollapalooza should have laid all fears to rest. Running though a number of songs from last year's neo-soul record, the band sweated through a set in the sweltering August sun only to put the focus where it belongs -- on Lidell, his talent, and his sex-symbol good looks. The band even left the stage for half of the set, allowing Lidell to hunker over his machines, microphone in hand, and give the Chicago festival a dose of what made his last performance in Minneapolis so special.

Tonight's venue, Dinkytown's Varsity Theater, should work out as a prime venue for exactly this kind of event (also featuring Janelle Monae). Stylish and comfortable, but with a small size that ensures ladies can get close enough to throw thier underwear, the Varsity can showcase Lidell without concertgoers having to crane their necks to get a good view of the fireworks onstage. And if he breaks out any of his slow-burning torch songs, you can expect that there won't be a dry eye (or pair of panties) in the house.

--Ian Traas

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