Masego / VanJess / Shay Lia Opera House, Toronto ON, October 23
Published Oct 24, 2018Though cooler temps have descended on Toronto, TrapHouseJazz crooner Masego brought a sweltering set to Opera House. Accompanied by his "Touch the Floor" collaborators VanJess, and Montreal-based songstress Shay Lia, Masego dazzled the packed house with scorching selections from his latest album, Lady Lady, as well as some throwbacks for his day one fans.
Though technical glitches marred her set, sultry singer Shay Lia did a decent job of warming the stage. Her first song cut off abruptly not once but twice, and her understandable frustration started to seep into her vocals. She soldiered on, however, and the crowd was warm and encouraging through her live renditions of "Blue," "Good Together" and "What's Your Problem." "Leave Me Alone," her rousing up-tempo song with Kaytranada, was the perfect way to close her performance.
Sibling duo VanJess commanded the spotlight during their segment. In perfect harmony, they delivered tracks from their debut album, Silk Canvas, including "Control Me," "Addicted" and "Honeywheat." Minor sound issues prevailed during their set, but the pair navigated the glitches like pros, working the crowd into a proper frenzy by the end of their performance. Following Shay Lia's example, they closed with a Kaytranada track ("Another Lover") that left the entire room rapt.
Just after 9, the house lights dimmed and the opening riffs to "Tadow" started. The epitome of cool, Masego glided on stage in a floral silk shirt and round sunglasses, letting the sultry sounds of his saxophone announce his entrance. Confidence dripped off of him like sweat and his playful energy and boyish flirtatiousness immediately captured the crowd. "It's gonna be a good show tonight," Masego said. "I can tell."
His TrapHouseJazz band provided stellar backing, adding texture and flourishes to crowd favourites like "Shut Up & Groove," "Queen Tings" and "Lady Lady." "You Gon' Learn Some Jazz Today" really came to life, and the rendition of "Black Love" had much more energy and flavour in person than the recording.
A natural entertainer, Masego was an absolute firecracker on stage. For just over 90 minutes, he switched from saxophone to vocals to making beats on his MPC in real time without stopping to catch his breath. Even his "water break" was a pleasure to witness: he built a beat on his MPC for the crowd to groove to while he rehydrated to a rhythm. His clever theatrics were an impressive sight — he entertained not just with his music, but with his entire body.
Before the night was through, Masego blessed the audience with verses from some of his guest appearances like SiR's "Oh Nah Nah" and GoldLink's "Late Night." There was a fun battle of the saxes between Masego and his bandmate, who engaged in a playful call-and-response as the delighted crowd cheered them on. By the time Masego finished "Girls That Dance" (which he artfully blended with an old favourite, "Send Yo Rita"), the audience was on a high and begging for an encore.
He didn't disappoint –– when he bounded back on stage to finish his set with "Navajo," the crowd erupted. The song turned into a massive sing-along that could have rivalled Choir! Choir! Choir!
From the fancy footwork to the witty banter and impeccable crowd control, Masego's live set is a treasure to behold.