Braving the second blizzard of the winter season, the audience at Tuesday night's Plan B show at Bowery Ballroom in New York brushed the snow off their shoulders and warmed up with the knowledge that some serious rap and soul crooning was about to hit the stage. It was also Plan B's stateside live performance debut, so anticipation was high and the man also known as Ben Drew did not disappoint.
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From the opening guitar riff of 'Writing on the Wall,' Drew had every person in attendance in the palm of his hand, working the stage like the great legendary singers of old. The clincher is his voice, a plaintive, aching croon that reaches into your heart and strums it, then turns on a dime to let it go. Drew's deep connection to classic R&B and soul is palpable, and his distinctly emotional vocal approach meshes perfectly with a band that manages to evoke the funky professional cohesion and soulful roots of the golden era of Stax/Volt, Motown and Atlantic without pandering to it. It's easy to see why Drew decided to go in an entirely new direction and sing on his second album, 'The Defamtion of Stickland Banks.'
As the crowd sang along to 'Welcome to Hell,' Drew smiled, sensing that a special connection had been made. Something was being shared, communicated and created between performer and audience. After the sing-along set ended, it wasn't too surprising that the encore was a medley of soul classics. The fans were hooked as soon as Drew sang the opening words to Smokey Robinson's 'Tracks of My Tears' and moved to the Temptations' 'My Girl.' "We're going to mix a little old with a little new." Drew exclaimed.
With that, Faith SFX, the "human beatbox extraordinaire,"