Concert Reviews

Todrick Hall at the Opera House

It seems there is no challenge, obstacle or dream too big for Todrick Hall. The 33 year old Texas native knows how to spin life into threads of gold and has built a devoted following in the process. Hall brought his Forbidden Tour to Toronto’s Opera House last Tuesday and the venue was filled to the rafters with a beautifully diverse crowd. Any statisticians in attendance would have had a hard time identifying Hall’s target audience – straight, LGBTQ+, ethnically varied, young and “experienced” – his music and message has touched a lot of lives.

The Forbidden Tour is an ambitious stage show that, in part, showcased a story arc from Hall’s latest creative endeavor – his second visual album, Forbidden. Visual albums, a modern-day take on the rock-opera, offer triple-threat artists like Hall a way to entertain while expressing views on the state of the world. Growing up as black and gay in America has given Hall plenty to say. The visual album, runs 90 minutes long and hits a lot of heavy subjects. For Hall, the challenge is bringing the show to a stage without losing the punch that you get with the original video format. But Hall knows that people want to have a good time when they go out to a show – luckily, having fun and thinking are not mutually exclusive.

The first half of the show was a Broadway style, hip-hop infused highlight reel from Forbidden. Todrick Hall is known for having high production standards. Hall has a clear vision for his art and the drive and talent to push that vision through. With a talented troupe of singers and dancers at his side, his charisma is undeniable. The show is best appreciated if you have already watched the album, but even those who walked into the Opera House without that insight could enjoy the spectacle. Hall’s musical style is hip hop and R&B, but he draws heavily from his love of musical theatre and variety shows to craft a story worth telling.

After a short intermission, Hall came on the the stage to chat with the audience a bit. Hall, a major presence on YouTube, connects with his fans in a very real way. He took the opportunity to make it clear that he does what he does without corporate backing. Everything he does is completely self-funded. He marveled that the crowd seemed to know the words to every song – remarkable given the number of songs on the album and the short time it had been out. Hall’s message of love and acceptance was punctuated with a public gesture. Hall called for a fan to come up and the crowd quickly realized what was happening as the fan proposed to her girlfriend. The room erupted. After the 21st Century “Kodak moment”, the music started again. A few more songs from Forbidden followed and then a dip into the back-catalogue, to the fans’ delight. Hall Included a medley of Disney songs reinterpreted, Todrick-style. The energy and positivity of the night was fantastic.

For anyone who wonders how artists will make their way in this age of decimated arts industries and social media gone wild – Todrick Hall is evidence that there is hope.

About author

From folk to pop to punk, Neloufer believes that music matters; that it is almost as vital as oxygen. She also has a deep love of language, et voilà! - music reviewer.