JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

July 2, 2013
Heineken Music Hall
Amsterdam-Zuidoost,  NLD
Review by James Rowe
Photos by James Rowe

Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean, Take a Bow

Last night I witnessed the greatest live singing performance I have ever seen in my 12 years of attending gigs in the UK, Europe and the U.S. Christopher Breaux aka Frank Ocean, take a bow.

With anticipation high, the doors opening later than planned and no support act, it seemed like ages before Frank appeared on stage dressed in a white tee shirt with blue trim and very snazzy black and white patterned trousers. He appeared timid at first but began to open up as the night went on.

His first song, which is untitled at this time, describes him driving around California in which he states, "We could fly half way across the world." I am all for escapism and he makes it seem like a wonderful place indeed. Through the years I have been told by many people that certain cities in the States will "steal your soul", I feel like I'm there. I particularly like the line, "The beach is kinda average but the mushrooms are magic."

He then follows with Novacane which is well received by the audience. Judging by the crowd's reaction it would seem that nowadays we all know a "Broad with the Hollywood smile." "Pilot Jones", which is my personal favorite, is immaculately sung. I closed my eyes a couple of times during the gig in order to hear Frank. The same way Billy Hoyle in "White Men Can't Jump", can hear Jimi.

Frank then takes a seat and says to his band "Let's do Forrest", this refers to the Forrest Gump track on Channel Orange, in which Frank sings the lyrics from the character Jenny's viewpoint in the film. "Forrest Gump, you run my mind boy." For a man to be able to pen such tender lyrics from a women's perspective shows remarkable talent and insight.

Frank takes time to introduce his band, Guitarist, Keyboardist, Trumpeter and Drummer, who are all immaculately dressed in suits. They would not look out of place in the 1920s' Great Gatsby era. The pace is ramped up a little with the track "Pyramids". I let loose at this point and start with my new signature dance move. The strobe lighting and back film give this track an appealing edge.

"Golden Girl" follows "Channel Orange" and gets a great reception. I exercise the whole of my vocal range singing along word for word. "I'm gonna stay right here with you, till the hurricane comes, till the Tsunami comes, I found my golden girl." No doubt the inspiration for this song came from Hurricane Katrina which overcame New Orleans, the place of Frank's birth.

As the band departs the stage, Frank proclaims, "I got one more for you." He begins to sing "Wiseman", a song he wrote for the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained." I react with shock when I hear the opening chords as I did not think he would play this one. It is the highlight of the night for me. The lyrics "Wiseman closes mouth madman closes fist, young man shows his age, judge man named it sin...", hit me like a bolt of lightening when I first heard them. He then insinuates to the crowd that the lyrics apply to all of us when he sings, "All of you, I bet your mother would be proud of you." Frank signs off with a polite "Thank you Amsterdam."

I will leave you with what was written on the screen above the stage. "In a dream you saw a way to survive and you were full of joy."