Minneapolis matters to H.E.R.
The Oscar- and Grammy-winning R&B star signaled that with her purple outfit Friday night at the Armory in Minneapolis.
She expressed it in words, acknowledging that she dressed in tribute to Minneapolis' most famous musician, and spoke of how Prince was a major influence.
She also nodded to him musically, playing the climactic guitar section of "Purple Rain" at the end of a brand-new song.
Even without all the purpleness — which included an oversized shirt dress, sneakers, nails, sunglasses and sparkly electric piano — it would have been a triumphant Minneapolis debut for H.E.R.
Her vocalizing, guitar playing and stage presence were off-the-charts impressive. The mating of her voice with four background singers was masterful and often magical. She answered the challenge of converting a repertoire full of chill R&B hits into an invigorating concert in a way that was smart and resourceful.
Mixing in unexpected material, she started the evening with DJ Khaled's vibrant party-starter "We Going Crazy," a 2021 recording on which she and Migos were featured. "Make It Rain," which Ed Sheeran recorded for FX's "Sons of Anarchy," showcased her bluesy guitar chops and unexpectedly wailing vocals.
Late in the 85-minute concert, she rocked out with a medley of snippets of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," "We Will Rock You" and "Glory," shredding like a guitar goddess. Then she topped it off, standing two stories above the stage with her four-man band, blasting Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way," a tune she'd played with him four weeks ago on the Grammy Awards.
She will rock you.
The versatile 24-year-old had that part figured out. However, she stumbled early in the program by truncating too many of her own R&B hits, including the seductive "Come Through" and the piano ballad "Losing." With a set featuring more than two dozen selections, it might have been more prudent to offer fewer songs but in full versions.
The show turned around midway when H.E.R. stood center stage atop a modest platform. Accompanied by only her acoustic guitar and four singers, she got as intimate in front of 7,000 people as her songs do when played in your living room.
"Girl Like Me," her collaboration with Jazmine Sullivan, saw her singing with newfound feeling and soaring trills. "Cheat Code" mined a Sade-ish groove, with the layers and textures of her backup singers punctuating the emotion like a stolen kiss.
Best was "Best Part," H.E.R.'s No. 1 adult-R&B single with Daniel Caesar from 2017, arranged with the heavenly finesse of Stevie Wonder and featuring sidekick singer Milo, 17, who had women in the audience swooning.
To wrap up the main set, H.E.R. declared "We Made It," a celebration of her career struggles, from a 10-year-old prodigy who sang on "The Tonight Show" to a Grammy-grabbing multi-instrumentalist admired throughout the music business since her 2016 debut. She encored with an untitled new number about losing control because she's falling in love, filled with dramatic vocals and rocketing guitar that eventually segued into "Purple Rain."
Surprisingly, H.E.R. did not perform either of her celebrated social commentaries — the Oscar-winning "Fight for You," which has been on her set list for most of this current tour, and the Grammy-winning "I Can't Breathe," inspired in part by George Floyd being killed by police in Minneapolis.
She found other things to say about Minneapolis in her overdue debut. And Minneapolis will have plenty of things to say about her pretty thrilling concert.