Maxwell and Jill Scott double the loving at New York's Madison Square Garden

maxwell-jill-scottImage Credit: Daniel Locke/PR Photos (2)On Friday night (June 26) true school R&B came to New York’s famed Madison Square Garden. For the latest stop on his Renaissance Hotel-sponsored tour, smooth crooner Maxwell shared the headlining bill with soul star Jill Scott. There was no opening act, but two main events. In a black shirt, skirt, sequined black tights, and a black heels, Scott kicked things off with hits like “The Way” and “I Love You,” a new track from her forthcoming album The Light of The Sun. “This song’s for the people that have loved someone real hard and f—– it all up,” she described before creeping into the funky mid-tempo cut that apologizes to an ex lover.

Songs like that are the reason Scott’s fans love her as much as they do. She’s a wonderful storyteller; her songs, descriptive and emotional, are simple and relateable, content-wise. When she set up “Cross My Mind,” a mostly spoken-word track about a not-so-good man who was great in the sack, she asked the women in the house, “You guys know what I’m talking about?” They did, screaming their “Yeah, girls” and “Uh huhs.”

Scott’s band—two drummers, a brass section, guitarist, and two keyboardists—was hipper than most, all dressed in black Adidas tracksuits. And only visible as silhouettes were two background dancers, sexily grooving to Scott’s music behind screens. As fast as she can sing about a trifling man, Scott can coo about one that treats her right. In an operatic fashion that would impress Pavarotti, she sang “He Loves Me,” and after showing her range in musical scales, she brushed herself off as if to say, “Yeah, I’m that good.”

The Grammy award-winning veteran has accomplished a lot for a person whose look isn’t that of a typical pop star. She’s not Beyoncé Knowles fit. She’s a curvy, full-figured lady. Her hair doesn’t fall to her shoulders and down her back. In fact, it was blown out in Afro fashion. Scott thanked to crowd for accepting her as she is, saying that music executives would prefer she change. “They want you to be skinny, hungry, and mad all the time,” she said. “I eat.”

Scott closed out strong with a trio a funky jams, starting with “Hate on Me,” then her Go-Go smash “A Long Walk,” and finally the uplifting, yet defiant “Golden.” Her half of the evening was an amazing showing of refined skill, making me wonder why she isn’t even more popular. She’s a complete woman, confident in her own skin and excellent at her chosen craft. There were no apologies and no topic was off limits. As she hinted at earlier, Scott’s a whole ‘lotta woman. And talent, too.

Waiting for Maxwell to hit the stage, I was scared Jill Scott’s impressive opening had blown Maxwell out of the building before he got to his dressing room. That was going to be a rough act to follow.

Find out how he did after the jump.

But in no time my doubts had fallen by the wayside. In a charcoal suit, black sunglasses, and matching wingtips, the 37-year-old coolly slid into his first track, “Sumthin’ Sumthin’” from his neo-soul 1996 debut Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite. Early on, he set the tone as dynamic performer. His dance style was somewhere along the lines of a more masculine Prince with some added 70’s Motown choreography and 90’s hip-hop: He dropped into splits, shuffled a bit, and even Tootsie rolled.

When his band launched into the jazzy “Cold,” the horn section got loose. The three brass men lifted the track about a woman scorned to levels that could’ve popped the Garden’s roof open.  After running through his reflective 2001 ballad “Lifetime” and more recent “Bad Habits,” he performed his cover of Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work.”  This is when panties started raining on stage. As Maxwell asked several intimate questions like, “Can I be your baby’s daddy?” (Of course they replied, “Yes, please!”), women threw their underwear. He, obviously enjoying the lingerie attack, hung them up on the microphone stand and even wrapped one pair around his neck. Maxwell, ladies and gents, is what’s called a “sex symbol.”

During “Stop the World,” a cut about how everything pauses when he makes love to his special lady, Maxwell asked, “Can I get your Facebook account? I’m going to deactivate it. The only one poking you tonight is going to be me.” Romantic? Maybe not. But women in the crowd enjoyed it nonetheless, transforming from their adult selves to squealing adolescents. He made sure the guys who brought dates did not feel threatened. “To all the fellas mean-mugging me,” he started. “I’m getting it warm and percolating for you. I’m the appetizer.” Hopefully the guys served a good entrée afterwards.

Maxwell followed with an amazing set of covers, starting with Al Green’s “Simply Beautiful.” It being the one-year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s untimely death, next was his Thriller classic “Lady in My Life.” The Isley Brothers’ “Don’t Say Goodnight (It’s Time for Love)” seemingly and unceremoniously capped of the night. “Goodnight,” yelped the singer as he speed-walked off the stage with his entire band in tow. It was just a tease though. The audience wanted an encore. And he gave it to them with “Pretty Wings.”

A Brooklyn native, he thanked the crowd for the love. “It’s the hardest thing in the world to perform in front of your people,” he confessed while fighting back tears. He made it look mighty easy, though. Then he glided off into the summer’s night.

Have you ever seen Jill or Maxwell perform live? How were they? Let us know.

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix)

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Comments (35 total) Add your comment
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  • mar

    i’ve seen Jill live a couple of times. she is amazing. i’m selfishly happy she is not too famous. i don’t wanna share her with the masses. sometimes the masses make things worse.

  • Laila

    Saw them both in DC on the 18th. Amazing concert, live band, live vocals/no lipsyncing. Definitely a great show.

  • DZ

    Saw them at the Staples Center in LA on the 5th. They both put on a great show. How true R&B is supposed to be – not the “music” that is played on the radio.

  • BeBe

    Just saw them as well… Very good show! John legend is amazing as well live

  • Lakay

    I’ve been a fan of Maxwell for years. I have all of his music and I’ve enjoyed his shows immensely in the past…thought they were magnificent. Saw him recently in Tampa, FL on the 15th of June and didn’t feel the sound or the vocals were as clear, crisp, and inviting as usual.

  • Musiqlover

    Saw Maxwell on tour right before he released BlackSummersNight and he premiere som of the new cuts off the album like Cold and Pretty Wings, he was amazing and seriously wetted my appetite for his long waited return which turned out to be my favorite album from that year. I saw Jill Scott front row on New Years Eve 2008 with Chris Rock and she was better than any album performance, there’s nothing like a live Scott experience. This is a true treat to any real music fan…true class acts!!

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  • Fletch

    The best concert I have attended. You definitely got your money’s worth. I think Jill song every songs on all her CDs.

  • Barbara Soloski Albin

    Saw Ms. Scott in Oakland, the lady doesn’t hold back anything, she gives you all she has and then keeps giving. It was a majical evnening I will never forget. I did not stay for Maxwell, because I wanted to hear her in my head of days and weeks to come and she is still here<3

  • Scott

    I aint ashamed to say I am a white male that went to see them because I love soul music, and they did not disappoint. It made me want to see them again even more. There is something about a concert and one who performs. You will never understand how great they are as singers and performers unless you see them live. They elevate their songs to a whole other level live. Keep rockin’ Jill and Maxwell.

    • PNK

      Why would you be ashamed,or think someone would think you are?

  • C-luv

    Saw Jill In concert yrs ago when she did the sugar water tour with Erykah Badu and Queen Latifah and even in concert with those ladies she stole the show. Jill is a true performer she sounds better live then in her CD’s who accomplishes that.

    • vee vee

      I agree with that. She has one of the baddest, strongest live vocals I’ve ever heard.

  • Aja Richardson

    I am the lucky woman that was hugging all over him at the concert and I am dying to know where can I get pictures of it…My batteries in my camera died and although that memory will be in my mind forever and a day I would love a picture…any ideas anyone about locating one?

    • vee vee

      OMG…I am jealous girl….I definitely hope you find some pics!!

    • soulshadow55

      Hi Aja, I was there at MSG and saw you and Maxwell embrace. You can’t know how jealous I was of you nor how happy I was either. Tears came to my eyes. We all went aaaaaaaaaahhhhhh – that is so sweet. If you want to see the video of your embrace, please go to http://www.thelatestmaxwellnews.com. This site is all Maxwell, all the time. Pictures, video from concerts, interviews, etc. I saw your video yesterday and it brought back fun memories. I hope you get a chance to check out the site.

  • D

    I saw Maxwell when he was in Austin last summer. Amazing, Amazing…

  • rosa7053

    I was at the MSG performance and loved Ms. Jilly. Maxwell was sexy smooth.

  • Rich

    I had the privilege of seeing Maxwell on his very 1st tour. One of only 5 honkies in the whole place… haha. DAMN he was amazing back then. He was already covering “This Woman’s Work” as well as that gospel take on NIN’s “Closer.” AND, of course, nearly all of his 1st (and still best) album. Fantastic performer.

  • Tymeisha

    I seen Ms.Jill Scott and The Sexy Maxwell at MSG! And they are fabulous! Love them both

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