Saidah Baba Talibah - Wrongbar, Toronto - March 25, 2012 - Canadian Music Week

By Anthony Marcusa

On the last night of Canadian Music Week, braving a sudden cold spell and possible musical exhaustion, a vast crowd packed Wrongbar on Queen West to witness a stunning display of funk, soul, and emotion by the incomparable Saidah Baba Talibah.

Sporting blue eye shadow and a yellow mohawk, Saidah elicited such impassioned and awe-struck responses from the audience, as cheers and screams peppered every song. She didn’t merely get the crowd waving their arms, clapping, and swaying to the beat, she hit notes and mesmerized to such an extent that everyone there couldn’t help but be effusive in praise.

Opening with “Revolution,” arguably her most popular song (as made famous on a car commercial) with the confident and feisty words “I know what I want,” Saidah took the scores of people at Wrongbar on an intimate, well-orchestrated, musical journey that fused rock stylings, funk beats, and her soulful voice.

And there was a marching tuba. The four very skilled and visibly arresting band members that joined Saidah on stage included a compelling (and enduring) sousaphone player.  Surrounded by talent that complemented her own musical acumen, Saidah took time to introduce her band mates, with each performing an expert solo in their own fashion.

“High” was truly one of the acmes, a stirring showcase of Saidah’s raw emotion and beauty. The inspiring chorus, in which she hits her literal and figurative high note, was one of the many moments in which the crowd cheered mid-song. She would lose herself in the music and words in this powerful piece, but didn’t miss a beat as it ended, transitioning effortlessly into a fast-paced, powerful rock anthem.

“Place Called Grace,” a single off her debut album (S)cream, is a song that no matter where you hear it, on an iPod or on stage, makes you move, and hearing at Wrongbar certainly got everyone bobbing their head.

The worst part of the evening was simply that it had to end. Saidah was a worthy performer to close CMW for those in attendance, combining power and passion for a memorable evening.