By Pauline Hunt
Artist: Alicia Keys
Date / Venue: Thursday December 19th, Vector Arena, Auckland
As I wait in my seat, full of excitement, I try my best to keep it all inside. When the announcement was made that Ms Keys was going to be performing in NZ, there was no way that I was going to miss out this time round. After bringing her concert in 2008 & having not attended, then having to hear rave reviews about it, I was gutted that I somehow managed to not make that concert. Before Alicia Keys was due to make her appearance on stage, I would be enjoying the smooth sounds of her opening act, the great Mr John Legend. This is the first time John Legend has performed in NZ, and I was even more enthusiastic now that they announced who was going to be introducing us to a night full of RnB goodness. With the anonymous crowd around me, and sounding like the way I was feeling inside, I knew that this was one concert that was not going to disappoint.
The main lights go down & the buzz inside the arena is full of screams & lights from phones are the only things you can see, getting ready for pictures to be taken. The first drumbeat starts and I knew straight away who had entered the stage. Lyrics from ‘Made to Love' start to echo the crowded room and the screams just got louder. John Legend's performance & opening for Alicia Keys was everything & more. The man has great soul within him and he can definitely sing and please the crowd. ‘Tonight' followed as well as performing some of his well-known hits, Number 1, Ordinary People, and Green Light. After a brief moment of silence, John Legend performed his latest single and ballad ‘All of Me' before leaving the stage to make way for Ms Keys.
After what felt like forever to rearrange the stage, and to move instruments around, it was finally time to see the lady we'd been waiting for since walking through the doors. Giving us a tease of ‘New York', and not long after gracing the stage, she makes her way to her piano & belts out ‘You Don't Know My Name', which later on in the song, her husband producer/artist ‘Swizz Beatz' makes an appearance on stage. After a brief moment to share a kiss, he moves along to allow his wife to continue her show. Performing hits she's well known for,‘Karma', ‘Sleeping With A Broken Heart', ‘A Woman's Worth', as well as her smash hit which introduced her to the world ‘Falling', Ms Keys, without a doubt was putting on a show.
While performing her hit singles, Alicia Keys would be giving the audience short stories which in fact would lead up to the song that she's talking to us about. There was also a short moment where her microphone had stopped working, but like a professional, her and the band did their best to make-do of the situation, playing an instrumental while someone backstage was running around trying to find a mic that actually worked, or at least was trying to find out what the problem was. When it was finally solved, the show went on. She had muscle-packed dancers to help her on stage as well as her live band & also her amazing back up singers. She went on to perform ‘Brand New Me', ‘Tears Always Win', as well as ‘Girl On Fire'. Her son ‘Egypt' also made a cute appearance to help his mother out on stage, and she also got him to talk to the audience for little bit. Before her last hit, she did a quick wardrobe change and came back out in a stunning red dress to perform‘New York' which had a video of Jay Z himself rapping his part. Throughout the night, she reminded us that her NZ show was special as it was the last show for her ‘Set The World On Fire' Tour.
Alicia Keys is undoubtedly one of the most talented and truest artists to come to our country. She doesn't conform to society & makes music that matters to her. She was everything that I expected from an artist of her calibre. Her live band, her dancers, her back-up singers & of course, her exceptional voice & interaction with audience made it one concert that I'll remember.