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In concert: Janelle Monae

Janelle MonaeJanelle Monae: A star is born. (All pictures by Evy Mages/TWP)

By Sarah Godfrey

In the past, singer Janelle Monáe has seemed overwhelmed by quirk: her fabulous pompadour, an obsession with aliens, a robot alter ego. At times, all of that zany threatened to overshadow her fine work, like that of her otherworldly 2007 EP "Metropolis: The Chase Suite."

But Monáe seems to have learned how to give off just enough weird - more Erykah Badu, less late-career Lauryn Hill. At her sold out show at the Black Cat on Monday, the Girl from Another Planet was far out and grounded - and all points in between.

(All kinds of strange, all kinds of awesome, plus more pictures after the jump.)

Janelle Monae

The show was the first date of a tour to promote her debut full-length "The ArchAndroid," due in May on her own Wondaland Arts Society and Bad Boy Records. If the preview of the twisty, genre-spurning work is any indication, "The ArchAndroid," could be the best thing to bear a Bad Boy logo in ages. Note to Diddy: Less Gorilla Zoe, more of this.

Monáe and her band hit the stage wearing grim reaper cloaks, but quickly shed them and kicked off the show with the high energy shriek fests "Dance or Die" and "Faster." The singer, who says her new album is inspired by everyone from Salvador Dali and Stevie Wonder to Octavia Butler and David Bowie tripped through the fuzzed-out "Mushrooms and Roses," a jam both psychedelic and psychotropic, and released balloons into the dancing crowd during "Locked Inside." The audience was still batting them around by the time she showed off her vocal chops on "Wondaland," the sort of love song one would hear at an electro dance party held on a Candy Land board.

She paid homage to the Godfather of Soul by throwing on a cape and screaming "Ya gotta get up!" during "Tightrope," a serious funk workout that also conjured up everything from the English Beat to "Stankonia"-era Outkast, and ended with "Sincerely, Jane," from her EP, a crowd surf and some exaggerated Miss America-style waves. Strange, for sure, but by that point she'd earned it.

Janelle Monae

Janelle Monae

By David Malitz  |  March 16, 2010; 2:40 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags: Janelle Monae  
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