Image 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.
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