If ever I had forgotten why I had “fallin” in love with Alicia Keys before, I sure as hell had a smack-in-the-face wakeup call last night! I don't even know where to begin it was just that amazing! You know, I don't even think amazing is the best word to describe her!
First of all, I'm a pianist so to give you a little background, I originally went to college for aeronautics but quickly realized it wasn't for me. I'm not a technical-minded person. So I went through a depression, a little counseling, some career counseling and went with my original talent. I've been playing since I was 6 years old. Started on organ (mostly theatre and pipe organs) and then self-taught myself the piano. I transferred to Berklee and swam in the sea with the big fish for a while but alas, it wasn't to be (very $$$). Several years later and I'm at UMB working on my BA in Music. Needless to say, it was Miss Keys who inspired me to “go ahead” with music and try Berklee out. Now back to the concert.
Jordin Sparks & Ne-Yo (that's my big-headed baby but I love him and those thick lips and sexy eyes so step with all that negativity about him!) did a excellent performance but they were mere insects in the presence of a goddess once Miss Keys emerged! She began the show with a recorded vid of Cedric the Entertainer, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and Jennifer Lewis at church and sending lil' "Licia" out into the world. So she exited the church and then the screens parted and in this UFO-like entrance (picture bright light from a hatch, smoke, shadow, think Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind), she blessed us with her presence! She did several numbers, great choreography, dancers, the band is tight. Then out from the same alien-hatch emerged her baby grand on a pedastal. It was kinda eerie (it did that several times throughout the night) since one time it was under red lighting and smoke and the piano looked it was coming from the mouth of hell but anyway, I digress. She dismissed the band temporarily and gave us a few classics like "How Come You Don't Call Me" and "Butterflyz" along with "Goodbye."
She did the song "Prelude To A Kiss (Nana's Reprise)" and had a montage of the children in Africa she visited and asked everyone to text to a certain number as a donation to support her Keep A Child Alive foundation (click on the link if you want to donate). Not too many people, including myself, did it so I'm not sure how much they made. Felt a bit bad but with times tough, not to mention that most people already paid a fortune to get in to the concert (and eat), I'm not too surprised. I greatly respect her charity work and admire her dedication and resilience and hope to donate in the near future.
Alicia had a few breaks and let her backup singers, including Jermaine Paul, command the stage while she changed, and then came back to do "Superwoman," "Teenage Love Affair," "Go Ahead," "A Woman's Worth," "Unbreakable," "Diary" (with Jermaine), "Karma" (which had a James Bond spy theme!) and then revisited "Fallin'." She did a number of lesser known songs but ironically didn't touch "If I Ain't Got You" ... she kept the energy going, music non-stop and then when it seemed it was over she popped back out and got the crowd to their feet with "No One." And lastly, she hopped up on the piano at one point and played backwards. Excuse me for I must bow to the master! All hail the Goddess of Soul! I respect the piano greats (Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Duke Ellington) but playing backwards ... DAMN ... I need to step up my skills! LOL
I prefer the intimate feel of our raggedy Orpheum Theatre but last night's show proves Alicia has grown too big for a small venue. The lighting, camera work and the special effects demonstrate her maturity. My first time seeing Alicia was on the First Ladies Tour (Beyoncé & Missy) and while she was spectacular then, she didn't have that certain flare. I saw her again but there were still no fancy screens, or cameras. But this time, she's really come a long way and if this is just after 3 studio albums and one live album, I can't wait to see what she has in store for us in the years to come!