Ryan Leslie pleases audiences at SOB’s

A repeat sold out venue at SOB’s welcomed Ryan Leslie with open arms. On Thursday, March 12, a fairly young and stylish crowd included a handful of couples, single women, on-the-prowl-men and hardcore male fans reciting lyrics to every song.

“I love his music. He has all the aspects of an R&B Kanye,” said Terrence Liverpool, an audience member.

Also, for the crowd’s Francis and the Lights. Picture a quirky-looking Elvis with a live band, alongside the infamous electric keyboard theme of the night to accompany the sound. The lights dimmed and the audience grew excited.

For the love of music, the crowd managed to bob their heads and applaud the band for their vibrant identity. Francis and the Lights recently gained the attention of Kanye West, appearing on his personal blog.

At the time when the feature entertainer was to hit the stage, the crew was still setting up. Blame it on the vision of the saxophone, trumpet, keyboard and electric guitar to claim your immediate attention and beg one to believe: This was an interesting show.

And it was with Free, the former 106 & Park host, current Ed Lover morning show cast on POWER 105,to properly introduce the “one man groove,” Mr. Ryan Leslie. At 9:40 p.m, he took center stage. Leslie wore a green zip-up, fresh white tee, gold piece and stunner shades. He first fed the crowd with “Gibberish,” a song from his newly released self-titled album, Ryan Leslie.

Paying tribute to his fans, Leslie sang a ballad that gave thanks to his fans for allowing him to do his “dream job” since he was a “young boy.”

He continued with “Quicksand” and more songs off his album such as “You’re Fly”, “Diamond Girl,” and “Valentine.” Leslie even performed “Irina” with a synthesizer while on stage. Talk about multi-tasking, as if the keyboard wasn’t enough. A product of an Ivy-league education?

Not only did every song play off this smooth, relationship themed plot, but the live band completely shut down the stage. From the drum solo to the electric guitar solo, every instrument was on point.

To the crowd’s surprise, a quartet of violinists came on stage to co-perform “Addiction.” The surprises didn’t stop there. Leslie performed “Zodiac,” a single not on his album, reminiscent of a more up-tempo, male version of “Signs” by Beyonce.

The clock hit 10:10, which summoned his Billboard chart-topping label mate Lloyd to hit the stage and harmonize. But he decided to preview only a tid-bit of songs off his latest album Lessons in Love such as “Girls Around the World.”

The band playfully took center stage again without a complaint, as the crowd steadily bobbed their heads in appreciation. Then it was time for one of Leslie’s “most personal songs.” A familiar kick-drum pattern, sneaky synthesizer and catchy lyrics compromised “How It Was Supposed to Be.”

Leslie was completely in the zone; he even broke his gold piece.

Still, it was an applause worthy ending for the “Ryan Leslie Experience.” His stage performance is as sweet as his talent on the production side. Because the trance begins once the beat rocks, the not-yet-mainstream songs deserve attention.

The quality of his singing may be lagging as he defends a title for a top R&B release of this year, but the pleasure of his sound is hard to forget.