Hip-hop fans know Dwele as the go to guy for guest slots alongside Kanye West, Common, Slum Village and Big Sean, though R&B appreciators also herald him as one of the smoothest singers delivered in the last decade. During a sold out early show at City Winery, the 37-year-old Detroit native displayed the latter side, and even if that meant massive hooks took a back seat to meaty grooves, his 75-minute set sculpted a vibe that was much more enchanting.
Dwele flexed his mighty vocal muscles, evoking the classic likes of Donny Hathaway and Marvin Gaye, crossed with neo soul heavyweights KEM and Raheem DeVaughn.
In fact, the intimate and elegant venue was an ideal setting for the singer/songwriter/piano man/trumpet player, whose witty dialogue with the audience was just as engaging as his improvisational interplay with a jazzy seven piece band and background singer. From his debut project “Subject” through the latest “Greater Than One,” Dwele flexed his mighty vocal muscles, evoking the classic likes of Donny Hathaway and Marvin Gaye, crossed with neo soul heavyweights KEM and Raheem DeVaughn.
After getting everyone warmed up with “I’m Cheatin’” and giving a shout out to the “‘80s Babies,” he called an unsuspecting couple on stage during “Know Your Name.” In addition to giving them “sexy voice” lessons while they all got acquainted, Dwele talked them through some virtual (but fully clothed) romancing that had everyone rooting for action and roaring at the over the top lyrical instructions.
Shortly after the equally sensual “Swank,” Dwele left the stage for “Feels So Good” and danced in the aisles with several more than willing ladies, though when he realized a second show was booked right around the corner, quickly instructed the band to change course. Once “Find A Way” kicked in, the showman made his way all the way around the back bar, naturally serenading everyone in his path and adding another debonair layer to his already sweltering sounds.
Upcoming concert highlights at City Winery include Kevin Griffin (Jan. 8); Chicago Rock N’ Soul Revue (Jan. 12); Willy Porter, Paul Cebar and Peter Mulvey (Jan. 15); Del McCoury Band (Jan. 17); Syleena Johnson (Jan. 18); Kaki King (Jan. 19); Davina and the Vagabonds (Jan. 20); Steve Earle (Jan. 25-26); Don McLean (Jan. 27) and Alejandro Escovedo (Jan. 28-30). For additional details, visit www.citywinery.com/chicago/.