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POP MUSIC REVIEW

Renewable energy

Sean Paul's infectious grooves and smooth delivery help make his House of Blues concert feel more like a party.

April 12, 2006|Soren Baker | Special to The Times

Like his high-wattage reggae music, singer and rapper Sean Paul hit the stage Monday at the House of Blues with a burst of energy. The Jamaican DJ appeared on stage with a jog-strut and the authority befitting musical royalty as his backing band, two additional vocalists and four sensuous female dancers jammed to the instrumental of his propulsive 2002 hit "Like Glue." Sporting dark sunglasses, a black trench coat, a black T-shirt with a bevy of rhinestones and a glittery chain with an "SP" ornament, Sean Paul was the epitome of informal cool.

In the next 10 minutes, Sean Paul, his band and his dancers tore through "Gimme the Light," a "Make It Clap" remix and "Baby Boy," three sizzling songs that helped him become a worldwide sensation. It seemed more like a party than a performance, as virtually everyone in the audience performed their own dances, lost in the infectious grooves and Sean Paul's smooth delivery.

"Like Glue" and "Gimme the Light" were breakouts from his hit-heavy second album, 2002's "Dutty Rock," which sold more than 2 million copies domestically, helped spawn a reggae resurgence in the U.S. and led to him collaborating with Busta Rhymes on the "Make It Clap" remix and with Beyonce on "Baby Boy." Those two hits markedly increased his profile in the rap and R&B worlds.

Unlike Bob Marley, whose most famous songs focused on political issues and spirituality, and were typically delivered over laid-back grooves classified as roots reggae, Sean Paul favors the more kinetic reggae style known as dancehall. Many of his most popular songs focus on his sexual prowess, his status as a playboy and his affinity for marijuana. He also benefits from some extraordinarily memorable sing-along hooks and addictive, easily danceable music, which has helped his latest album, 2005's "The Trinity," remain a steady seller since its release last fall.

At the conclusion of "Baby Boy," Sean Paul said, "I'm stepping in hotter this year," but he was wielding a cane, which had seemed more accessory than physical necessity. "You see me with the little cane right here," he added, hoisting it in the air proudly. "I've got a broken knee, but I'm still doing my thing."

If his knee was really broken, it was somewhat hard to tell, as throughout the next 90 minutes, Sean Paul hopped, danced and bounded around the stage, often in between grinding his hips, much to the delight of the sizable female audience.

Because many of his biggest hits came in the first 20 minutes, the concert sagged a bit in the middle. But his drummer, two guitarists, keyboardist and two hype men, as well as his gleefully erotic dancers, kept the energy electric. That set the stage for the concluding run through his other big hits, "Get Busy," his recent No. 1 single "Temperature" and "We Be Burnin'," which benefited from the same energy and excitement as the evening's exhilarating opening.

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