*Kirk Franklin closed his 20 Years In One Night Tour in the Bay Area, and the 3,000+ who packed Oakland’s Paramount Theatre were treated to a show the likes of which I haven’t seen since…
well, now that I think about it, I may have never seen anything like Franklin’s show. I’ve been blessed to see many of the great live performers of my lifetime. Franklin’s Saturday night performance may well have been the best concert — of ANY genre — I’ve ever seen.
I’ve been a fan of Franklin’s since the beginning of his career, but I’d never seen the artist live, and wasn’t sure about what to expect from a live Franklin show, as he’s as much preacher as singer.
I needn’t have worried. Kirk sang Saturday night. Let me be clear: Kirk SAAAAANG. Kirk also danced, giving David a run for his money during several parts of the show and appearing at times as a sanctified Michael Jackson. The show was less concert and more experience, with Franklin serving as a praise and worship leader who worked the stage and our hearts like the love child of James Brown and Mahalia Jackson. He covered all of his classics, like “Why We Sing”, “Silver & Gold”, and “Stomp”, while leaving plenty of time for “Wanna Be Happy” and other favorites from his current, Grammy-winning Losing My Religion album.
Franklin has lost none of his verve or voice over the last two decades, and he was bested vocally only by his phenomenal background singers, each of whom was given multiple moments during the performance to shine solo.
At one point during the show, the Grammy winner movingly testified about challenges he’s faced over the last year, and encouraged all of the men in the audience to stand with him in the presence of God. Soon afterward, he brought his own teenaged son out on stage, declaring “I never had a dad, but he has one!” It was one of many moments when we got to witness a soldier standing in his truth and in the full service of God. Independent of your religious background or views, you would have been moved.
When I say he was all over the place Saturday night, I mean it literally! Kirk moved from the Paramount Theatre’s floor to the balcony throughout the show!
Franklin was clearly having as much fun as we were during the night — and that’s saying a lot, as at one point, the combination of Franklin’s seemingly boundless energy and the crowd’s thunderous applause made me question whether an earthquake had struck the Bay Area. “Oakland is the best city ever to close out a tour,” Franklin said from the stage before earnestly, humbly asking “Can I come back next year?” and “Did you get your money’s worth tonight?”
A clamorous “YES!” from the audience said it all. Franklin took it all in and left the stage, sincerely thanking us for “supporting your boy for all of these years.”
See you next year, Kirk. It would take an act of God to keep me from Franklin’s next show, and after the blessings I received Saturday night, I doubt He’d deprive me of a second helping.