City Slang: Detroit Music Awards highlights
The 2013 Detroit Music Awards, as ever, provided some tremendous musical performances this year.
Unfortunately, we missed Sweet Crystal’s set with David Winans, as well as Blackbyrd Revue. The first act we caught was folkie Mike Ridley, whose tune “Michigan Man” was elegant, witty and hair-raising.
Ife Mora put in a good shift, her highly marketable hard rock-meets-soulful blues sound finding favor with the front tables. Like Mayaeni, Mora just needs a bit of luck in order to find greater mainstream success. Plus, she has a song called “Detroit Blues”.
The industrial-metal mash-up featuring Cybertribe and Haf Life was one of the highlights of the evening. The three-song set featured a tune from each band plus a Nine Inch Nails cover, and it was hard to take your eyes off the dancing girls wearing monkey masks and the chick gyrating against an angle grinder. Much fun.
Hip-hop duo Passalacqua simply kicked ass. Grabbing the chance to perform in front of a theater crowd with both hands, the high energy set didn’t let up for a minute. These guys have the skills, the showmanship and the beats to get a lot bigger. Not that we’re in a rush to get rid of them.
It was fitting that Motown legend Martha Reeves introduced new Motown local Kem onto the stage. With the soul star winning an award for his work with the homeless as well as his music, Kem’s performance truly reminded Detroit that R&B from this city should be raw, honest and gritty, not polished and empty.
Speaking of raw, honest and gritty, Katie Grace is the coolest country singer in Detroit. She belts out three tunes tonight, including “Wine on the Weekdays, Whiskey on the Weekends”, takes a bow and then disappears to celebrate her own award. Simply class.
The grand finale is provided by the one and only Suzi Quatro, who of course was supposed to play last year but had to pull out because of a broken leg. Better late than never – we get riotous versions of “Can the Can” and “Sweet Little Rock ’n’ Roller”, as well as a cover of Neil Young’s “Rocking in the Free World” and a duet with John Drake of the Amboy Dukes.
When you look at the DMAs as a show, just a cool gig, there’s really nothing to get annoyed about.