I've waxed poetic about Pharrell many times over and last night the stars aligned for me when I saw him perform live at the Apollo Theater. The concert, directed by none other than Spike Lee, was the latest staging of the American Express Unstaged, which pairs together famous artists and leading filmakers. The best part about the series is that it's not just exclusive to the cardmembers at the show, but also livestreamed for fans to watch at home.
While the experience was pivotal for me, it was even more monumental for Pharrell himself. For him, playing his first show at the Apollo Theater — a Harlem mainstay that's housed all the greats from The Temptations to Stevie Wonder — was surreal.
"I can't believe I'm here right now in the middle of Harlem," he told the crowd. "This is a special moment for me."
Pharrell, wearing a denim-on-denim look topped with his famous Vivienne Westwood hat, began with tracks off of his new album G I R L, such as his duet with Miley Cyrus, "Come Get It Bae," and orchestral ode to all women, "Marilyn Monroe." He then slid into a mix of early '00s throwback including Nelly's "Hot In Herre," which he produced and co-wrote, and Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot." Considering that Pharrell has an unrivaled hip-hop rolodex, it was no surprise when he was joined onstage by buddies Busta Rhymes and T.I. for rousing renderings of "Pass The Courvoisier," and "Blurred Lines," respectively.
For most of the show, Pharrell was surrounded by 6 female backup dancers, whom he referred to as The Baes (his "different" girls). At one point, he made a speech dedicated to equal rights for the better sex, hoping that one day women will be paid the same, if not more, than men.
"I want to be on the right side of history," he told the crowd.
Pharrell closed the show with a feel good rendition (is there any other kind?) of "Happy," ending his vivacious hour-long set on a high-octane note.
While he prepares to embark on his forthcoming European #DEARGIRL tour, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that he'll throw in some U.S. dates so that I can relive last night all over again. See the set list, below, and be sure to subscribe to our Best of Pharrell Playlist on Spotify.
1. Lose Yourself To Dance
2. Come Get It Bae
5. Marilyn Monroe
6. Hot in Herre
7. I Just Want to Love You
8. Pass The Courvosier
10. She Wants To Move
12. Drop It Like It's Hot
13. Aerosol Can
14. Lost Queen
15. Know Who You Are
16. Holla Back Girl
17. Blurred Lines
18. Get Lucky