a review of a concert
Craig David at the 9:30 club
washington, dc
february 4, 2002

in the back of a cab,
i'm on my way to the 9:30 club.
i could have asked someone to go with me,
but i want this experience all for myself.

very excited,
standing outside the club
in a less-than-beautiful neighborhood in dc.
between dark, abandoned warehouses,
several hundred people are standing in a line that's not moving;
a group of people,
mixed in race, gender and age.
there are four motorcoaches (three black-and-white, one red) parked around the building, motors running.
the crowd speculates which one might contain the one man we are all here to see tonight.
in one of the black-and-white coaches, parked in an alley beside the building,
the blinds at the window keep peeking open.
a chain link fence and an empty parking lot separate two of the buses from the part of the line where i am standing, trying to stay warm.
if he is there, he can see us.
i keep looking in that direction, hoping for just one glimpse of him.
slowly, the line begins to move.
i finally reach the front of the building.
the red motorcoach is parked in front of the building, almost directly in front of the door.
it's dark all the way through except for the back, where,
you can see through closed shutters the flickering blue light of a tv.
is he here, watching dvds, playing playstation 2?
this only child imagines you there.
i call out to you in my mind.
if you are here,
i am not more than five feet from your warm body,
the outside wall of the bus all that separates us.
curled up on a couch.
in the blue flickering light,
waiting for the moment when the lights and the screaming will call an end to your quiet moments.
the only child,
all by himself,
for now.

just when we think we cannot stand the cold any more, the line moves more.
slowly, the snake of people slithers into the building that looks more like a garage than a concert venue.
after surrendering half of my ticket and getting my hand stamped, i get a tour program and a drink and i wander,
looking for the perfect place to see him.
the balcony is already filled
but there are very few people waiting at the stage, so i go there.
i have never been this close to the stage before at any concert.

the crowd continues to file in and soon the floor is packed,
the fans only barely patient.
i briefly eavesdrop on several conversations around me and can hear the crackle of excitement in everyone's voices.
the club is playing music for us while we wait.
(did he select what we are listening to?)
the music makes the crowd's excitement bubble and simmer:
a typical dc soundtrack of hip hop.
i am really feeling the jay-z track, "i just wanna love U (give it 2 me)",
with its thumping, driving bass line.
i heard it filtering up from the street so many times when i lived on florida ave.,
playing loudly on car stereos stopped at the traffic light under my window.
i don't recognize any of the other cuts, but somehow it feels like it feeds the mood of the crowd.

the opening act, tweet, performs a 20 minute set.
during her last song, missy elliott just appears on the stage,
a surprise that makes the crowd further bubble up with excitement.
after the band leaves the stage, the roadies finish setting up all the equipment needed and continue soundchecking the lead mike, which keeps giving feedback.
we know they are getting everything ready for him.

we wait another half hour for the reason we are all here.
he is obviously a man who knows how to make you wait so that you want him all the more.

the house lights go down.
the stage lights come up.
the band comes on from stage left.
the excitement is growing quickly as we know our time to see him is near.
then we hear his cocoa-butter smooth voice from off-stage:

"darling tell me are you ready
to go steady?
Craig David all over your body,
a pretty young lady.
seven days with you is drivin' me crazy.
can you fill me in?

can you tell me, baby, are you ready?
Craig David all over your body.
seven days with you is drivin' me crazy.
can you fill me in, lady?"

the crowd is boiling over with excitement.
he bounds on from stage right
and the crowd just loses it,
all our emotions erupting all over him.
the air explodes with screams.
and now he is there,
right before my eyes.
it's almost more than i can actually believe.
he is more than ten times more gorgeous than i was prepared for.
ten times more beautiful than any pictures or videos.
looking more mature,
less pretty young boy
and more handsome young man.
bigger and taller than i had expected,
skin a beautiful warm, light shade of caramel,
eyes of ebony fringed with long, dark lashes,
those amazing lips.
he appears in front of us wearing distressed jeans and matching jacket, dark blue t-shirt and dark blue Wale Adeyemi bandana with white lettering.
i am standing in front of the speakers,
and i can feel the vibrato in his perfect angel voice all through my body.

he starts the set with a high energy version of time to party.
when he dances and bounces and stalks to our edge of the stage,
(half young wide-eyed innocent, half hip-hop roughneck)
i am not more than ten feet from him.
i am in denial.
i cannot believe it is really him.
one small thing shocks me back to reality:
the stage lights make his darkest bitter-sweet chocolate eyes sparkle.
he holds his hand over the crowd and i think if i could just stretch far enough over the heads of the everyone else, i could touch him.

he also performs:

-can't be messing 'round
while he is on our side of the stage,
he scans the crowd
pointing to us.
then, shakes his head and dances away to the other side of the stage.
in the spirit of the song, he is telling us that he canąt be with us because there is already someone.
it isn't until later that i realize that he was telling us the story of when he was with someone and had to turn other people away.
he ends the story by performing the next song.
after that, he is free and it's all about us.

-walking away + remix
"i'm walking away from the troubles in my life
i'm walking away 'cause you didn't treat me right"

-7 days with safe sex rap
he speaks before the song,
in that perfect British accent:
"hey, i have a story i'd like to tell you.
see, it was like this.
i was walking through the subway in dc
(everyone screams)
and it was a monday.
(today is monday, more screaming)
well, i met a pretty girl
and i said
'how would you feel if you went out for a drink with me?'
and she said ok.
so we went for a drink on a tuesday,
(shrugs his shoulders and smiles)
and i think you all know what happened next!"
and when he raps about "johnny 5 before entry" during the safe sex rap,
it is so exciting to hear him say it live.
Craig David actually manages to make safe sex sexy.

-booty man
a few songs into the set,
he slowly removes his jacket, stopping so just his shoulders are revealed before taking it off all together,
and even though his shoulders are still covered by his t-shirt,
this much teasing from him drives us all crazy.
his t-shirt has tight half sleeves,
showing his biceps.
he is not as thin as in some earlier pictures,
but just a bit more muscular,
just that bit sexier.

when he sings to us
"do you see me when you fantasize?"
the answer is yes.
he is the object of all our fantasies
then he sings:
"i'm just sittin' here daydreaming about you
and all the the things you do. . ."
and he comes and sits on our end of the stage for a moment.

-follow me -
when he comes to the beginning of the second verse, he is at our side of the stage again.
we are screaming and reaching for him.
talking, not singing, almost in a loud whisper,
he says to us:
"you know what you gotta do, right?
come on,
you know what you gotta do."
as the screaming continues.
then he looks right at us very intensely and says "just RELAX . . ."
and all of our hands just drop to our sides and our side suddenly goes very quiet.
he continues singing,
". . .unwind, just take your time,
take, take, take your time. . ."
when he sings
"when i get on top
and I make it real hot
are you falling?",
he slowly moves his hand down his stomach...
to his inner thigh...
as we watch where his hand travels next,
he has us all completely under his spell.
at some point in the show,
he leaves the band to finish a song
and comes back on the stage in white Wale Adeyemi t-shirt and bandana with red lettering
all through the show,
he teases us by slowly, slyly lifting his t-shirt just enough so we see his abs.
(perfectly flat,
a perfect shade of melting caramel.)
we scream when he shows us.
(we want him all the more
for what we don't see.)

-last night
everytime he sings
"Craig David all over your . . ."
he looks down his body,
biting his lip
and slowly, his hand moves down. . .
once again,
the crowd erupts with excitement
and everyone pushes closer to the stage.

throughout the show,
the lighting is brilliant:
there are four tall white silk curtains behind the stage
lit in shocking shades of:
pink, blue, green, purple, orange, chartreuse.
i have vivid technicolor memories of looking up to see Craig's face and head,
lit in purple, pink and blue;
seeing fraser playing a guitar solo,
lit in orange and turquoise.

-you know what
Craig is almost crying at the end of the song when he sings:
"finding it hard to push on through
since i've been away from you"

-7 days dj premier remix
during the remix, when he sings
"we can do it in the pouring rain,
do it again,
do it again
'til you call my name."
he wipes his face with his hand and you believe he has just come in from the rain.

every song is ten times more energetic than the original version,
as he stalks and strolls across the stage,
flirts with us,
teases us,
pouts, smiles,
bites his lip,
wrinkles his nose in that cute, sexy way,
slowly grinding his hips,
groaning into the microphone with pleasure,
closes his beautiful eyes with a slight smile, angelic face uplifted,
(his long ebony eyelashes resting on his caramel cheeks, damp from sweat).
he is drinking us in.
we feed him.
he feeds us.

he introduces the band:
frank tontoh, musical director and drums,
richard cardwell on keyboards,
dean mark on bass,
tommy blaise,
priscilla jones
lincoln jean-marie
on back up vocals,
and last, but absolutely not least,
fraser smith on guitar.
he and Craig have an obvious musical chemistry between them.
when fraser plays a really nasty, dirty guitar solo, Craig is right in front of him,
hammering away at his rap.
they are staring intently at each other.
Craig's unique sense of rhythm seems to be as much a part of him as his own blood.

then, quickly, he leaves the stage,
he yells:
"thank you, dc!
i love you!"

some people leave, thinking he is gone.
but the house lights don't come up,
so most of us don't move from our places
or move up to take the places of those who have left.

the band filters back to the stage.
we are chanting and screaming Craig's name.
richard cardwell comes back to his keyboard and motions for us to scream louder,
so we do.
finally, Craig runs back up on stage,
and launches into high energy versions of
fill me in.
when he leaves the stage,
the last thing he says to us
(and the last time we hear his perfect voice and his beautiful accent tonight):
"thank you again, dc
you were off the chain!
i love you!"

eleven fifteen.
i was only a part of his universe for an hour and fifteen minutes
but my life is changed forever by him.

he redefines the word sexy a thousand times over.
and he is such an inspiration to those of us who know there is another life out there for us.
if at twenty, he does what he was born to do, why can't we all?

(Breathless originally appeared on Simply Craig, courtesy of Chezi)

All writing contained in this website © 1998-2005 by Betty A. Parker

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