One of the great things about a venue like New York's S.O.B.'s is how intimate it is. Its smaller size along with its great sound system make any performance there feel like a personalized event. In other words, it's the perfect place to see a performer like Teedra Moses. She once again graced the S.O.B.'s stage this past Wednesday and put on a show worthy of any stage but tailored for the crowd.
But before Ms. Moses got on stage, we were treated to opening act Josh X. Though it was just him, a keyboard, and a drummer the entire three-song set, you didn't miss the band at all. He first performed "I Need You Girl," a ballad that had the right amount of yearning and wistfulness to catch the attention of the ladies (a few in the front were especially enraptured). He the brought out the Brian McKnight staple "Anytime" after a brief explanation of how McKnight was one of his inspirations. He treated the song as more of a call and response, trading lyrics back and forth with the audience (who undoubtedly knew all the words). His last song was a sweet tribute to his mother that, though the chorus was far too repetitive, allowed his talent to shine. The young, Juilliard-trained singer-songwriter could possibly have a bright career in his future.
Just a few moments later, the opening bass riff of "Another Luvr" signified that Teedra was on her way to the stage. She strutted onto it rocking the shortest of creamy orange dresses and super-high heels with an intensity that simmered under every note she sang. Still, her happiness to be there was evident as she made sure to smile at familiar faces and reach out and touch each person she could. After a candid bit of banter ("I even put a wig on for y'all tonight," she said at one point) she continued with two more tracks, including Luxurious Undergrind's "Invitation." After delivering electrifying renditions of a few other catalog classics, she was back to talking about how hot the wig was exactly. (One of the more colorfol remarks: "It's a zebra's balls in Africa." Oh, Teedra.)
Newly armed with her glass of Hennessy, she got back to the matter at hand, delivering "The One," "Love Divine," and "You'll Never Find (A Better Woman)," for which she did a little grinding with a male audience member, in succession. Then she sang "Are You For Real?," and made sure to add a bit of real talk at the end about relationships.
"Take Me" began a set that featured heavily from her first -- and technically only -- album Complex Simplicity. She performed the duet with her back-up singer PJ Brown filling in the Raphael Saadiq role, their voices blending almost perfectly together. Another rant, this time about her underground status ("I don't wanna be famous, but I do want the money," she quipped) was then followed by "For A Lifetime," "No More Tears," and the exquisite "Caught Up." Then the audience was treated to what might be Teedra's signature song, "Be Your Girl." She performed it straightforward at first but then, as she is wont to do, infused it with a bit of Mtume's "Juicy Fruit."
Leaving the stage briefly and then returning again amongst cheers, she launched into two of Simplicity's more hood tracks, "You Better Tell Her" and "Backstroke." She delivered each with the same sass, soul, and verve that she had given each song, reminiscent of someone like Mary J. Blige before she went all stately on us. And, as Teedra left the stage for the final time that night, the fans clapped, howled, and whistled to show their appreciation for her keeping it real as only she can.
[Photos: Sean Rhinehart]