I tweeted last night that five years ago Alicia Keys at Vector Arena rocketed into my all-time top 10 concerts and that there was no pressure on Alicia as a result. When she was nearly 30 minutes late taking the stage, rumours* started circulating that due to my tweet she was feeling overwhelmed with nerves.
Another friend had also seen that concert in 2008 and felt it was so perfect as to be a moment in time never to be bettered. As a result, he didn’t want to go to last night’s show, preferring to leave Alicia ’08 untouched by rivals.
Possibly he was right, but Alicia Keys is an artist I will always be making an effort to see live. Just the choice of her opening act – John Legend – and her pre-show music – Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson – reaffirms that she is a modern artist for people who grew up loving the greats of classic soul and R&B.
She is also quite possibly the most beautiful woman in the world. Yeah I said it! Why not? Every angle, every expression, she is beautiful in the purest sense of the word. She is also sexy without being explicit, writes all her own songs, has a huge set of pipes, plays a fine classical piano and is also one of the most generous music philanthropists of her generation. And not forgetting she must be a pretty cool mother, dancing with her three-year old heartbreaker-to-be son Eygpt at the show’s closing.
Last night’s set-list mightn’t have had quite the same level of fun of 2008 which really felt like a raucous night at the Apollo, though it did get close several times, especially on crowd-favourite No-One. Obvious differences from ’08 included the hits since then like encore Girl On Fire, the 60s soul throwback Tears Always Win and best of all, the anthemic Jay-Z (via the big screen) collaboration Empire State Of Mind.
As to why ’08 was marginally more fun, it may just be a simple matter that her album that year (LP #3, entitled As I Am) is arguably more carefree than the two fine follow-ups. With fewer tracks performed from that album last night than five years ago, perhaps that’s why, but this is needlessly picky. In an of itself, last night’s concert reminded me why I fell for Alicia Keys the first time I heard Fallin’ more than a decade ago: musically she is the closest thing my generation has to Stevie Wonder.
All told, it was a couple of songs from her second LP The Diary Of Alicia Keys that were my highlights in ’08 and my picks again for 2013. I’ve always thought of these two songs as very Bacharach-like in their melodies and after the breakout hit of Fallin’, signalled to soul fans that she was going to be around a very long time.
On top of the Stevie Wonder comparisons, Burt Bacharach is one of the greatest pop composers to have lived so that’s meant as the highest of praise. Here are You Don’t Know My Name and If I Ain’t Got You: