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Gnarls Barkley Gets Soulful At ‘SNL’ Warm-Up

“It’s kind of like our overpaid dress rehearsal,” Cee-Lo said last night (Apr. 10) at the intimate Highline Ballroom in Manhattan, a gig planned as a warm-up for Gnarls Barkley’s performance on “Saturday Night Live” tomorrow.

The hour-long show, which found Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse flanked by a five-piece backing band, was Gnarls Barkley’s first to feature material from its new sophomore album, “The Odd Couple.”

The band members took the stage dressed like vintage James Brown in turquoise tuxedos, while Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse opted for all white. Cee-Lo even had on a Brown-style pompadour wig, which he adjusted throughout the night.

Initially, the mix in the room left the vocals a bit muddy, but the sound evened out by the third song, a cover of the Violent Femmes’ “Gone Daddy Gone.” And in contrast to past gigs, there was no string section to accompany older material such as “Boogie Monster” and “Crazy,” which Cee-Lo said was “the song that made me rich and famous.”

The stronger soul influences on material from “The Odd Couple” shone through on “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul,” which found Cee-Lo reaching for the heavens like a preacher. Other highlights included a quick, punchy version of the single “Run” and the throwback pop of “Blind Mary.”

Gnarls Barkley will appear next at the Roots’ Family Picnic on June 7 in Philadelphia and at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on July 27.

In other news, the group is giving away a free MP3 download of “The Odd Couple,” played backwards and housed in one continuous audio track, from the newly launched Web site The site appeared without explanation earlier this week.

Here is Gnarls Barkley’s set list:

“Charity Case”
“Gone Daddy Gone”
“Who’s Gonna Save My Soul”
“Just a Thought”
“Going On”
“Boogie Monster”
“Storm Coming”
“A Little Better”
“Blind Mary”
“Smiley Faces”