I’m very grateful for pleasant surprises.

I walked into the Mayer Hawthorne show at Boston’s Paradise Rock Club not knowing what to expect. The Detroit-based singer served up a solid approximation of 70s-era soul on his debut album, “A Strange Arrangement”, but I wasn’t sure if he could bring it in a live setting. However, Mayer and his four-piece band took the stage and proceeded to tear shit up with an hour-long set that brought the feel of a peak-era Motown revue to Beantown.

Hawthorne’s an interesting cat. A dude that looks like (a very well-dressed) Rivers Cuomo and sounds like the lovechild of Smokey Robinson. He’s a charismatic dude as well-his background as a DJ has served him well when it comes to amping up a crowd. The primarily college-age audience was obviously familiar with his music, although I must admit I giggled to myself when Hawthorne and his band played a cover of The Isley Brothers hit “Work To Do” (which has also been successfully remade by Vanessa Williams and the Average White Band)-me and the handful of other folks who recognized the song were obviously in the minority. It’s a damn shame that there weren’t more black folks at this show. We ignore people who are legitimately carrying on the soul music tradition in favor of hot garbage provided by the likes of Chris Brown-what a damn shame . Aside from the Raphael Saadiq show I saw at the end of ’08, this was the most soulful show I’ve seen in nearly two years in Boston. Actually, if you’re a fan of Saadiq’s “The Way I See It”, you should definitely check out “A Strange Arrangement” (and vice versa).

I should also give props to the beautiful Nikki Jade, who opened the show (I need to check out some of her music), and DJ House Shoes, who kept us entertained between sets.

Three shows in three nights…man, I need a nap.

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