The purpose of this blog is to express a love for new and exciting music; and what I heard last night was music in it’s purist form.Last night Alicia Keys performed at the Beacon Theater in NYC: No strings, no guitars, no drums, no beats; just Alicia and her piano.
Originally, I had planned to fly to NYC to see the concert in person. The day the concert was announced, I booked 2 airline tickets and a hotel room. Unfortunately on the day the tickets went up for sale, they went in minutes. I was totally bumbed. Fortunately AOL and VEVO streamed the live concert to those of us who weren’t quick enough to hit the buy button on the Ticket Master website.
First let me say that I knew Alicia Keys was a talented pianist, but I had no idea just how brilliant she was. Each song was played as though a single addition instrumentally would have been too much. And the addition of a background singer would have almost poluted the vocals.
I’m not going to get into details about the vocals or the technical aspects of the concert; I’ll leave that to officonados that take pleasure in that type of thing.I will say that you could hear the maturity in her voice. Each song from Songs in A Minor were given new life. Normally the live version of a song is not as good as the original. In this case, the live version was way better. If the anniversary edition of Songs in A Minor are anything like what I heard last night, I can’t wait to hear it!
But what I want to talk about is the vibe of the show, because it was the vibe of this concert that compelled me to write this post.
Without a word, the audience was drawn from their seats and their computers directly to the stage.
Alicia began by exposing the audience to what inspired and influenced her musically. But the way in which she expressed her love for music and her influences, allowed the audience to do the same. I couldn’t help but follow her down memory lane as she began to sing songs that had contributed to my love for music.
Even though the stage was set like a classical concert hall fit for Mozart, as soon as Alicia began to play, I was transported in time back to my mother’s kitchen where my 3 sisters and I would play along with the songs on the radio with pots, pans and everything that would make a sound. Not only would we try to copy the beats and melodies with our make shift instruments, we would also add our own little beats and melodies-an old skool version of a remix.
I immediately began to smile as she talked about the way her and her friend Tanisha would hang out on the train and sing songs that they had written. I distinctly remember my sisters and I doing the same. I knew exactly where she was coming from when she started her version of Debarge’s “Stay With Me”. I distinctly remember playing my violin as my sister Amy played the piano to “I Like It” by Debarge. And when she began to play “Trouble Man” by Marvin Gaye, I could see my mother dancing in the living room as my sisters and I performed our version of “What’s Going On.” I was on the violin, Amy was on the piano, my sister Juanita held down the drums as my sister Ann played her coronet. I’m not sure how good we sounded, but it wasn’t about the sound-it was about music.
That was the vibe of the entire show. As she began to sing her hits from Songs in A Minor, I began to reminisce about the first time I heard them. I remember the baggy jeans, belly shirts, Timberland boots and braids. I also remembered Lauryn Hill, Mary J Blige and Aaliyah; the voices of my generation. These were sounds of independence, strength and respect for women everywhere.
Alicia ended the show with some of her songs from As I Am, which was a good choice. She took you from old skool to new skool; from reminicing on the past to reflecting on the present and looking forward to the future. Even though “No One” didn’t have the beats in the background, I still belted it out!
And just a side note, the concert steam was very good.The sound and picture were clear. AOL and VEVO did a great job.
If you didn’t get the opportunity to see the concert, AOL Music still has the link available. Go to AOL Music Sessions and you should find the concert.