Concert Review: Daniel Caesar @ Corona, Nov. 25

Daniel Caesar took the stage at Corona Theatre on Saturday, November 25, and the crowd knew that they were about to witness something precious. The Toronto native is touring off of his gospel-founded, relentlessly nostalgic R&B tape, Freudian. With a rise in the press and a bump from features like Kali Uchis, H.E.R., and Syd, Caesar has established himself as an up-and-coming icon on the R&B radar, and he proved himself at the Corona.

Snoh Aalegra opened the show, a singer-songwriter out of Sweden, with a dazzling outfit and a pitch-perfect performance. Her songs left something to be desired though, with lyrics tracing around vague pieces on romance, loss and heartbreak, rarely swaying past cliché. As a singer-songwriter, Snoh Aalegra is a solid one for two.

The stage was set with the band members dressed head-to-toe in white, with all-white instruments, and celestial blue light on the smoky stage. Then out came Caesar in blue pants and a green Dime hoodie. The tension in the room melted—the theatre transformed into the late-night car rides, the cafés, the bedrooms that Freudian has taken over in the past three months. People held their significant others, smiled with their friends, and yelled the words. I was there by myself, and I haven’t felt lonelier since.

On stage, Caesar appeared quietly confident, seldom exchanging with the crowd, but holding their ears nonetheless. Caesar didn’t do much to be his own hypeman, and the band was all but out of focus. There was so little light on the drummer I was surprised he could see what he was doing.

Sonically however, the whole stage was razor sharp. The Freudian instrumentals came to life, and Caesar took them and ran. He didn’t take much in the way of creative liberties on his live arrangements, but that fell firmly into the category of “not broken, don’t fix.” Instead, Caesar showed us why we were there. He has a breakout R&B album and he knows it. Track after track, with “Best Part”, “Get You”, and “Transform”, he had the crowd hollering and somewhat ironically yelling his silky, warm choruses. Caesar seemed taken aback by the eagerness of the crowd, remarking at several points that Montreal was more live than he thought. One thing is for sure: Montreal believes in Daniel Caesar.