It’s hard to believe Alicia Keys first stepped on the scene as the fresh faced 20 year old with immaculate talent that spoke volumes. Her hit single Fallin’ took over the airwaves, and her trademark braids had every woman mimicking them. What’s even harder to believe is that in present day, she’s still just as relevant and in her own lane. Not only does she show no signs of slowing down, but Thursday night at Madison Square Garden she showed us that same smile she always displays behind the piano.
Taking the stage in a sparkling red top, and form-fitting pants that display her more than admirable curves, Keys bursts into her hit “Karma” which sounds incredibly theatrical live. We are entertained by choreographed dancing but not by Keys herself. Instead, dancers take the stage as they frequently did throughout the night, and she’s careful not to join them in choreography. Keys’ effortless transitions reminded me just how many hits this woman has had over the years. “You Don’t Know My Name” was both seductive and reminiscent, while “Un-Thinkable” made us hold our significant other’s hands a bit tighter. “This is my favorite song, because it means so much to me” she proclaims over the sold out show before moving into her recent hit “Brand New Me” where her voice appears more powerful than ever. As she plays the piano, the jumbotron is focused on her hands as they glide over the keys in sync with her vocals.
But of course what would such a big show be without a surprise appearance? Keys starts to tell us how she can’t wait for the weather change: “When the weather starts changing like this, It makes me think of those summer classics. Who remembers this song?” And right on queue, the instrumental to “Ruff Ryders Anthem” drops and the stage is rushed by DMX and Swizz Beatz, immediately thrusting us back into the 90’s. Swizz helps X run through the hit “Party Up” before they both exit the stage, but not before Swizz steals a kiss from his lovely wife.
But Alicia returns to the center stage and reminds us of the night’s intimate setting. She performs a cut from her new album “Tears Always Win” which seemed to be a crowd favorite. Couples danced the night away in the aisles, while Keys played off the soundtrack to their night. But things got even steamier when she was joined on stage with R&B great Maxwell for their duet “Fire We Make”. Their chemistry was effortless and sensational. The night wines down when Keys plays off her piano heavy version of the hit “Empire State of Mind” as the back drop displays photos of the beautiful city. By this time, she’d changed outfits; her only time doing so, into a bright purple flowing dress with a smile still beaming as wide as it was 2 hours prior. She sincerely thanked us for coming and held herself tightly as a gesture of hugging us all if she could. It was a night that exemplified a rare talent that is here to stay; 12 years later and beyond.