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Kem kicks it up a notch at Canalside

The weather was warm and the evening, thankfully, rain free. But Saturday night at Canalside is still best described as a quiet storm.

That’s because the Detroit-based R&B singer Kem graced us with his presence for the first time since summer 2011. Not much has changed for Kem since then. He’s still riding the thunder of his 2010 album “Intimacy: Album III,” his most seamless mood piece yet. But at Saturday’s show, he brought an unexpected vigor to what could have been an effortless summer serenade, and the people at Canalside – many of them old enough to have grown up with Kem’s obvious influences – clearly loved having Buffalo turned into Motown for a night.

The evening opened with local saxophone great Will Holton, who confidently took the stage with his two drummers, keyboardist and killer drummer, all edged to one corner of the stage. Keeping in the night’s vintage spirit, they tore into not-so-obvious Michael Jackson hits, “You Rock My World” and “Remember the Time.”