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Theophilus London doesn’t need to do much to command an audience when he performs—his discography speaks for itself. The Trinidadian born artist released Vibes this past November, and his sophomore effort showcased his predisposition for brooding rhythms, pummeling crescendos, and smoldering vocals—with a profound tinge of Caribbean ecstasy. It was executively produced by Kanye West, so from beginning to end the project is lustrously polished and begs to be reckoned with. This sentiment is also true of London’s onstage persona—the man thrives in melodrama.
As he sipped from a teacup throughout his set this past Wednesday at Boston’s Brighton Music Hall (courageously stating “I’m on my Kermit the Frog shit”), London urged onlookers to loosen up: “I want to feel the viiiiibes, man! I want to feel the love!” He could have let his devotional old school R&B languidly flood the room uninterrupted (the night’s best moments were when this occurred), but this would have been too easy for London.
Instead, he took breaks between songs to refer to himself in third person (“Theophilus London is gonna pick out a sexy girl to tango!”), graciously adopt the role of modern movie connoisseur (“I don’t mean to spoil your day but that movie 50 Shades of Grey was weak as fuck!”) and bravely engage in a brief Q&A with the audience (“Pass the mic—if you got it say something to me…ya’ll missing the point…I’m a real person…the whole purpose of me doing this is to meet cool people like ya’ll”).
After announcing his self-imposed abstinence for 2015, he nonchalantly selected a female fan from the crowd to serenade during “Rio” and made it clear that he was here strictly for the ladies. His introduction to “Heartbreaker” was more tantalizing than the song itself (“This my new sexy single…I do what I want where I want and ya’ll should do the same”), but it was almost invisible in a sea full of aimless banter and inconsequential rumination. Perhaps London’s capricious nature is an inherent part of his charm, but in this instance it seemed like a glaring crack in his armor. At least it will serve as never-ending inspiration for many more albums to come.