Five thoughts from Mayer Hawthorne’s February 8 show at Vinyl

Mayer Hawthorne, performing Saturday night at Vinyl.
Photo: Erik Kabik/Retna
Chris Bitonti

1. Mayer Hawthorne's packed Saturday-night crowd feature a mixture of suited professionals, hipsters and older soul fans. Even with a near-capacity turnout, there’s no bad spot to stand in Vinyl, though dance space was an extra-hot commodity.

2. From the start of his performance, it was clear Hawthorne has abandoned his previous geek-chic vibe for a much smoother neo-soul-crooner persona … almost. He's still rocking old-school Nikes with his British Traditional suit.

3. Hawthorne’s sound is more retrospective than innovative, revisiting classic soul music and style. Still, his effortless falsetto and laid-back jams like “Get to Know You," “Backseat Lover” and “Her Favorite Song” are still novelty enough against the modern-pop backdrop to be really enjoyable.

4. The set also included some ingenious mashups: Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” into “The Walk” and Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison” into “Designer Drug," and then into Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough."

5. In true soul-man fashion, Hawthorne’s nonstop hour-and-half set barely gave him time to breathe. My personal highlight of the evening came early in ”A Long Time," a loving tribute to Detroit and the Motown music after which Hawthorne has fashioned so much of his sound.

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