When Alicia Keys initially started putting plans into place for her “Keys To The Summer” Tour, she was building the hype for it to be “the biggest show that she’s ever done.” Now that we’ve SEEN the show for ourselves, we can say this is a 1000% factual statement.
This was the sixth time that I’ve seen Ms. Keys on tour since the beginning of her career, just as recently as the “Alicia + Keys” World Tour last year, and I’ll have to be honest that her show at the Capital One Arena in DC on Friday, July 7th was the best and biggest of them all. Bigger production, bigger setlist, bigger energy, bigger staging, bigger sound system…this was Alicia Keys at the top of her game. For a woman who could have just sat at her piano and wooed use the entire night, she’s in touch with how multi-sensory visuals aid in a concert experience. There was a halo-light effect positioned above the center stage, two massive floating LED screens, a laser light package, smoke machines, and pretty much the whole nine.
The show started out with her walking through the crowd towards the stage singing an acapella version of her debut hit single “Fallin’.” This immediately sent us into a nostalgic frenzy the fact that anyone who remembers the music video for the song, you’ll know that she spent the bulk of the visual walking to reach her love interest. Once she reached her stage that was situated “in the round,” Alicia stood at her famed grand piano and broke out into a full-on orchestrated version of the song.
I’ll admit that sometimes with all she has going on with the multi-hyphenates before her name, it’s a bit easy for me to forget that at the core, this young lady is a musician, but her concert last week was a snap back to reality. As she flowed through songs in her setlist that included “New Day,” “Teenage Love Affair,” “Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart” and “My Boo“, it was clear to see how she literally became ONE with her music…which is the number one sign of a master musician. Her musicianship didn’t stop there, as she helped lead and direct her stellar band which was the perfect accompaniment to her sound. A band that consisted of Curt Chambers on guitar and lead vocals, Garrison Brown on drums, Dammo Farmer on bass, and Quintin Gulledge on keys.
This year serves as the twenty-year anniversary of “The Diary of Alicia Keys” and it was a delight to see such a heavy presence from that album, when “Karma,” “You Don’t Know My Name,” and “Diary” all were delivered with the initial integrity of the song that we all know and love. Don’t think for one minute that this was a greatest hits compilation, because Alicia let you know that she’s just gotten her latest #1 single, as she performed “Come For Me” while casually sitting on an illuminated staircase that lead to her B stage.
There were almost way too many songs for her to try to fit into a show that hit just under two hours, but she did her best to pack in other fan favorites as “Superwoman,” “No One” and “In Common.” There was one undeniable fact, and that was she sounded so damn good! By the end of the concert, she made it very clear why we have many of her albums on steady repeat and know the lyrics to so many of her songs. If you were any type of musician in attendance, this would have been the show to help give you the reignited motivation to keep going!