Pop: Lenny Kravitz Wembley Arena, London

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The Independent Culture
Two problems with Len. The first is that he tends to come over as an arrogant mix of Tom Jones and Billy Graham, a loved-up sex beast with a message for us about God. The second is working out exactly where he's coming from. Everyone knows the influences - lashings of Sixties and Seventies-style Cream, Beatles, Hendrix. He spurns digital technology, ferreting out authentic period equipment to achieve his retro sound, then he spits about being misinterpreted as a copyist. And though he's not that exactly, tonight he provides a made-to-order timewarp. Against a backdrop of brocades, velvets, neon Christs and low-slung chandeliers, Kravitz leads a band he must have searched years to find. Consummate musicians, every one is also fully themed, from the funky Philly brass section to the Ian Hunter-style barnets on lead guitar and keyboards. It's a matter of opinion where reinterpretation stops and heritage industry begins.

But what's weird is that the half-Bahamian, half-Jewish singer has clicked with the current Zeitgeist. Shaking waist-length dreads, wiggling his bottom in skin-tight velvet strides, he trawls through last September's Circus album, kicking off with "The Resurrection", a shuddering, thumping juggernaut: Led Zeppelin circa Physical Graffiti. "Tunnel Vision" lasts about 10 minutes; "Rock And Roll Is Dead" is far, far longer. And the audience? They love it. They love it so much even Lenny's surprised: "In seven years here, I have never seen you motherfuckers actin' like this." And so he does a surprising thing - he leaps off the stage, runs into the crowd and sings "Let Love Rule" from the top of the mixing desk. Thence, followed by anxious minders, he tears up the stairway to the balconies, where he dances with ecstatic fans. Though it's little enough, it's big for someone like Kravitz to break so far through his security wall, and somehow it brings the show alive and allows you to dig it, almost - though not quite - overturning the boredom of the first two hours. It helps that he follows with the uptempo Motown soul pastiche "It Ain't Over Til It's Over", which he keeps mercifully sharp and clipped. Len plays two encores before he's dragged off "because there's some kinda bullshit curfew", but not before he's shouted, "If the promoter wants to, he can give all the money back." For Lenny, tonight went pretty well.