All The Way Live: Three Is A Magic Number

Thursday, October 15, 2009

In Dallas, Texas, the air outside was thick with fog, smog and the mist of rain, noting the change of season. Yet the sizzle and heat of summer clung to the atmosphere inside the venue where a trio of music's finest were gearing up to warm up their audience for a night of musical bliss.
What was to unfold before an eager audience were the stylings of a soul princess, a rapper and a soul crooner. Three diverse sounds, one unifying moment that would blend them all together for one engaging brew.

The BLACKsummersnight Tour is part celebration and part re-introduction, as soul magnum Maxwell, plants himself back into performance mode since his seven year itch from the hot stage lights. Coming along for the ride are Chrisette Michele and Common, adding there flavor into the mix, giving the show a much rounded appeal. So what went down on Monday night in Dallas?

Chrisette Michele began her swift set by vigorously kicking things off with improvised scatting into the title track of her sophomore album, Epiphany. She churned through other strong numbers such as "Blame It On Me" and "Porcelain Doll", never skipping a beat. The showcase was over before it began as Chrisette didn't graze into the territory of her 2007 debut, I Am. Shame, as hopes of hearing "Be OK" and "Best Of Me" were dashed.

Common came up to plate, hitting things off with single, "Go!"...and well, we were off! Sweatin' up a storm and still looking mighty fine in a dress shirt and black vest, Common plowed through hits Neo-soul singer, Bilal, showed himself on stage alongside the rapper as he sung the Earth, Wind and Fire refrain of "Reasons", in his song, "Soul Sista", shakily starting it off but taking off in a high falsetto midway. Common went into covering rap classics like LL Cool J's "I Need Love"as well as throwing in the hits such as "Love Of My Life" and "Testify" into the mix. Oddly, no "I Used To Love H.E.R." was heard. He ended the set by busting a couple of slick breakdancing moves during "Universal Mind Control" even though complaining of his combat boots getting in the way.

After a tedious thirty minute wait, the lights finally dimmed and Erykah Badu's "Honey" began to bubble and spark over the speakers, in ode to Dallas' own soul sorceress, and signaling the beginning of the main attraction. Then four split screens appeared on stage with ambient water images and the sound of "Phoenix Rising" started to swell into the arena. Then Maxwell appeared, dapper in a black suit, and shades as he then creeped slowly into the spotlight, beginning the opening croons of "Dancewitme" segueing it into "Sumthin' Sumthin'". And boy was Maxwell, "sumthin' sumthin' as the show just kept getting better with each and every microphone stand swivel and ever split and foot shuffle that the soul man did. He even engaged the audience in a sing-a-long with a glorious lush version of "Lifetime", his backing band, not even skipping a beat. Even though Maxwell's tunes are mainly of the mellower persuasion, the crowd was still hyped as if he was putting on a rock show, and possibly so because of the large amount of females in attendance. Screams, whoops, hollers and "oh, my Gods!" could be hear scattering about the crowd, especially when Maxwell got right down freaky with some smut talk during "...Till The Cops Come Knockin'" and a rousing, "Bad Habits". Apparently, Maxwell was suffering from a cold, but you couldn't tell as he didn't hold back on those golden pipes, especially during the apex of the show (for me) when he did his well-known cover of Kate Bush's "This Woman Work". Maxwell hit the notes splendidly, almost sending a chill down the spine. He managed to get political with a bold chug of "Help Somebody", but was right back in the love zone as he had a female lead vocalist share his space for "Loving You". Naturally, "Pretty Wings" ended the affair with a shower of feather confetti raining down as Maxwell gave a lovely vocal throughout. He disappeared for a moment (fooling some who got up and left...uh, no people the man ain't finished!), then came back to dive into "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)". He then proceeded to end the show thanking the audience endlessly, smiling widely and looking starry eyed that he was receiving so much love from the crowd. Yes, Maxwell, we missed you all those years and we are so glad to have you back.

In describing the atmosphere of the show and Maxwell to my mom, I related it to her 1970's experience seeing Al Green live, where every female in attendance received a rose (which my mom still has) as they got serenaded by the Rev. For me, Maxwell's show was me in my mom's shoes, witnessing a real soul man at work. Maxwell's show remained cemented in that throwback state of mind, giving a nod to all those R&B romancing men like Green, Teddy Pendergrass and Marvin Gaye before him. That was what was so welcoming and truly warm about the BLACKsummersnight show, it was honest, real and made you have a big grin plastered on your face from the satisfaction. Bravo.

Audio Diva Notes
  • No pictures cause I still have my crappy camera. You can talk to my parents about why I have no pictures or audio of the show as they didn't listen to me around my birthday.
  • Went to the show with bestie, Lindsay, she hadn't heard much of Maxwell's music but always the concert hopper she was game, and well, I think she was converted especially by all that dirty talk Maxwell was giving.
  • Maxwell is a extremely naughty boy...his not caring about the time of the month ("put some towels down" he said) and the "morning wake-up" speech was O_O
  • I have never wanted sushi so much until Maxwell called Dallas his "sexy sushi"
  • Note to people who get the chance to speak in the microphone at at Maxwell concert: Do NOT say "I follow you on Twitter!" You sound like a stalker.
  • I understand getting out of a venue is a number one priority, but when Maxwell hasn't played "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)" and he leaves the stage for the obvious encore...sit your ass down, the man isn't finished yet. Dallas, you did it wrong.
  • Bought a Maxwell shirt, $35, not to shabby
  • Where were the programs??
  • If anyone went to the Maxwell show, let me know if they had some people taking your picture in front of a airbrushed backdrop of Maxwell's face. I want to make sure this was apart of the show's promotion or if this was once again Texas rearing its forever country-ness again.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so pleased that you had a great time at this show and three great artists onstage too, can't be bad. You're very lucky.

    Great review and I had to laugh when you said your friend was converted to a Maxwell fan when he started talking dirty. LOL!


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