The Limelight: NYC’s BLACKsummer’snight

20090604021342By Melva N. Lloyd

Every florist in New York City can thank R&B singer Maxwell for a rise in sales last night because when the soulful crooner made a stop at the world famous Madison Square Garden on his BLACKsummer’snight tour, his female fans didn’t want him to leave empty handed.  His simple yet elegant set was covered in single stemmed roses and bouquets of flowers once he sang his final note during his nearly two hour performance in front of a sold out New York crowd.  Hometown sweetheart Chrisette Michele and Chicago-born rapper/actor/poet Common warmed up the Garden with sets of their own before the headliner took to the stage. 

Opening with “Get To Know Ya” from his 2001 album Now, Maxwell serenaded the audience with a big band equipped with a full horn section, background singers, guitarists, and an organ player. 

Plagued with laryngitis, the Brooklyn native moved through hits like “Till the Cops Come Knockin””, “Fortunate”, and “Lifetime” without a screech or crack in his voice; only stopping to allow the packed arena to sing his songs word for word.  Moving fluidly across the stage, Maxwell was sure to perform songs from his newest record, BLACKsummer’snight, the first installment of a trilogy of albums to be released within the next two years.  His current single, “Bad Habits” was an instant crowd pleaser while songs like “Playing Possum”, “Stop This World” and “Fistful of Tears” showed off the Grammy-nominated artists’ vocal range and ability. 

Melva's Pics 007

Maxwell performs at Madison Square Garden on his national tour

After paying homage to soul legend, the Reverend Al Green, by doing his own rendition of the 1970s smash hit, “Simply Beautiful”, Maxwell ended his show with his hugely popular ballad, “This Woman’s Work” and his largest hit to date, “Pretty Wings”.  Crowd screams and chants of his name led the neo-soul singer to return to the stage to perform “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)” from his 1996 debut album Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite

Maxwell has proven that even after 15 years in the music business, it is very possible to remain relevant when you have a fan base as large as his.  His eight year interval between his last two albums did nothing but raise anticipation for his return.  While some artists focus on the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry, Maxwell sets himself apart from the rest with his meaningful lyrics and musicianship; bringing the “grown and sexy” feel back to music.

Maxwell’s newst album, BLACKsummer’snight is in stores and available for download on iTUNES now. 

Album cover image courtesy of www.coco-records.nl

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