Gil Scott-Heron opened for himself at the Wax Museum Thursday night. He walked out on stage alone and spent close to 30 minutes in a truth-telling monologue that turned the club into an amen corner. With a caustic humor akin to Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce, Scott-Heron reminisced about bluesology, New York, and the dangerous illusions of television. He also revived several of his fine, prophetic poems, including "Black History" and "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised."
When the nine-piece Midnight Band came out, they merely fleshed out the message, or, as Scott-Heron said, carried it on the wings of rhythm. Whether surrounded by a funky groove ("Alien," "Storm Music") or enveloped by sensuous and swirling jazz rhythms ("Winter in America," "Angel Dust"), the songs retained their sharp socio-political edge.
What Scott-Heron's voice lacked in range or dynamics, it more than compensated for with a warm timbre that gave his burning imagery the proper urgency. As expected, "B Movie," was the show's highlight, a year's worth of editorial cartoons about life under Reaganomics collected into one brilliant rap. If that number was a missile, it would be the multiple-warhead type; only, with Gil Scott-Heron, it would actually hit all its targets mercilessly.