Mary J. Blige & Maxwell Deliver A Much Needed Message Of Love With 'King & Queen of Hearts' Tour
R&B and soul music served its purpose that evening.
It's a windy Thursday night and the inconvenient, blistering cold air is swirling about the New York City streets. Less than 1000 feet away are white, blue and orange lights, bringing the New York Knicks' home turf, Madison Square Garden, into view. Hundreds of people are either speed-walking to catch their usual train. Some briskly walk by while others casually head up the stairs of the eastern entrance of the monumental venue. Happily, most of those making their way down 7th avenue were a part of the latter crowd.
Two days after a nerve-wracking Election Day (or rather night), many music lovers congregated at MSG to hear the soothing, yet nostalgic sounds of R&B's finest Mary J. Blige and Maxwell (Nov 10). As fans filed in, up and coming soul singer Ro James took to the stage and warmed up the crowd with a nearly 30-minute set, performing numbers like "Permission" and "A.D.I.D.A.S." from his debut album, El Dorado and independent compilation, Coke, Jack, and Cadillacs. Once the clock struck 7:30pm, Mary J. Blige emerged onto the stage donning a brown body suit - accented with a black hat, lacy bra, leather belt and boots - like only she can.
In between high-energy and emotion-stirring performances of hit songs like "Love No Limit," "Not Gon' Cry," "You Don't Have To Worry," and "Share My World," the "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul" dropped anecdotes and encouraging words (mostly) for the ladies like, "You gotta keep your joy" and "If you don't love yourself, ain' nobody gonna do it for you." Of course, her signature dance breaks were the highlight of the night, giving fans many "get up out of their seat" moments to rock with MJB. After playing throwback music videos and clips from 90s music TV shows, Mary brought down the house with a surprise and nostalgic performance of "I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By" with fellow New York native Method Man.
After witnessing two wardrobe changes and very fit figured Mary (with one hell of endurance might we add), one could't help but realize that as long as life and love continue to exist in this world, there will always be a place for Mary J. Blige and other artists, who reach the deepest parts of our hearts and souls. Quite frankly, as she paraded back and forth and jumped in her boot heels, it became clear that there ain't no stopping her now; MJB ain't goin' nowhere anytime soon.
10 minutes after her last song and a brief intermission, Maxwell made his way into the spotlight, dressed in a black and freshly steamed three-piece suit, looking "debonaire fly." As he kicked things off with high energy and unrestrained choreography, the Brooklyn native showcased his ecstatic enthusiasm for performing in his home city. Whether relaxing in their seat or standing out of pure excitement for the pelvic-thrusting gentleman, fans were taken on a 20 years joy ride of soul music from "Fistful of Tears" to "Cold" to "...Til the Cops Come Knockin'."
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But the highlight of the evening happened when Maxwell spoke into the microphone, saying, "This is dedicated to all the women and daughters." As purple lights and smoke swarmed around him, the sound of a string orchestra floated out of the speakers. Maxwell turned around, knelt and gestured upwards toward the stage's background screen. Text, images and footage of the late Prince flashed across as well as the victims of police brutality. A reel of protest footage flashed across the screen, reminding every one of today's unfortunate reality. Shortly after his pristine vocals pierced through the arena, he ended his delivery of "This Woman's Work" by saying, "In memory of all the black lives that matter out there."
After what felt like a big party with the homegirl Mary J. Blige and the oh so smooth brother Maxwell (and their solid sounding bands), one couldn't help but feel how the nearly four-hour concert served as a much needed moment of love and positivity therapy. Indirectly, MJB helped to gently strengthen some broken hearts while Maxwell help to caress others'. With the thought of the newly elected president Donald Trump entering the White House at the back of many attendees' minds and protestors navigating the Big Apple streets, Maxwell made sure to yell aloud, "Forget about the election" - a gesture and message that many in the audience appreciated.
As attendees made their way out of the venue, it was evident that R&B and soul music served its purpose that evening. It reminded everyone about the importance of love and coming together, and that all of the negativity in the world was best left outside of the venue's four walls - even if it was only for one night.