Concert Review: Cee Lo Green - SOUL Sounds Chicago - Live at Hard Rock Hotel - An Exclusive Lollapalooza Kickoff Party (Thursday, 8/2/12 in Chicago)

Concert Review: Cee Lo Green - SOUL Sounds Chicago - Live at Hard Rock Hotel - An Exclusive Lollapalooza Kickoff Party (Thursday, 8/2/12 in Chicago)
Photo by Seth Browarnik/WorldRedEye.com

A show that began late Thursday night as a Lollapalooza kickoff party ended in the early morning hours of Friday, 8/3/12 when Cee Lo Green took the stage at Hard Rock Hotel for a quick set of Gnarls Barkley and solo hits, part of SOUL Sounds Chicago...

What started with an opening performance by Miguel ended as Cee Lo took the stage backed only by a DJ.  Local DJs Timbuk2 and Hollywood Holt also performed Thursday night and celebrities like NBA player Shannon Brown and rapper Twista were about.

Hitting the stage around 1:30AM, Cee Lo ran through hits showcasing his outstanding voice across several of his musical guises.  Gnarls Barkely was present and accounted for as was his solo material.

Following mixed reviews last year at Lollapalooza, Cee Lo was in good voice on Thursday thrilling the crowd with his solo version of the Gnarls hit “Crazy.”

Cee Lo sang and rapped over samples being created by a DJ behind him but no live band was present Thursday night.  At one point, Cee Lo sang as the DJ made a transition from the Rolling Stones' "Emotional Rescue" to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." 

Green requested that the audience "Get up off your ass and party!" as the DJ moved from "Crazy" into Moby's "Natural Blues" and even to Europe's "The Final Countdown." 

Strangely the biggest ovation of the night went up as the DJ sampled Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."  It seems even the voice of Cee Lo Green was no match for alternative rock royalty on the eve of Lollapalooza.  "Where's my tequilla?" pondered Green.

Upping the ante, Cee Lo continued with “F-ck You,” before switching back to Gnarls Barkley for “Smiley Faces” (which he performed as the DJ spun Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" which actually fit the song surprisingly well). 

For those in attendance though who had waited since the show began at 10PM, a mere thirty minute performance coming at 1:30AM was clearly not what they had in mind… and smiling they were not... but at an event like this, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise either.  When a show starts at 10PM with four performers on the bill, odds are pretty good that nobody is doing a long set.

“I get paid to do thirty minutes, I do thirty minutes!” exclaimed Green to those in attendance who chose to take advantage of the show’s intimate confines and heckle.  To his credit, Cee Lo stayed onstage and addressed anyone willing to waste their voice when he could’ve easily fled the stage immediately for the more accommodating confines of the backstage area.  Then again, maybe he was still looking for his tequilla.

All in all, with complimentary beverages provided by UV Vodka and Asahi beer (and a unique opportunity to check out the full line of headphones and other audio equipment in the SOUL by Ludacris collection), this event (with Vibe magazine as official media sponsor) was a rare opportunity to catch a huge star in a stripped down performance amidst a lavish, and more importantly to the music fan, intimate venue.  You just don't see get the chance to see stars like Cee Lo in rooms like this very often.

Cee Lo Green stars as host of NBC’s hit television show The Voice… and Thursday night/Friday morning, the focus onstage at Hard Rock Hotel at SOUL Sounds Chicago was squarely on that.  And at least in that regard, Cee Lo didn’t disappoint.

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