In a week that witnessed rising R&B star, Miguel, accidentally drop kick an unsuspecting fan in the face when a dance move went awry, it was understandable that he seemed eager to please the audience as they trickled into the O2 during his opening act performance. Mission accomplished, yet at times there were signs of over compensating, with strained vocals and over-used Michael Jackson dance moves. Thankfully, no audience members were harmed during this performance.
Emerging at roughly 8.50 pm, in her signature wide brimmed fedora and red embellished top with a plunging neckline, Keys dives straight into 'Karma'. Vocally she is immediately sounding more controlled and confident then she has for a while, recent internet stirrings that she had lost her voice after a couple of raspy vocal performances obviously haven't phased her. 'You Don't Know My Name' comes next featuring a somewhat cheesy 'phone call monologue' on a nearby iPhone. The 60's soul inspired 'Tears Always Win' continues the retro feel, with Keys seated comfortably behind her white baby grand on an otherwise minimal looking stage. Pink lasers pierce the crowd before she launches into the breezy synth based 'Listen to your Heart'. With more choreography then on previous tours, Alicia is accompanied on stage by four male dancers for some laid back dance moves. Audience participation comes at regular intervals with loud cheers from a crowd mostly comprised of couples or girls who have dragged along their boyfriends, depending on your point of view.
A stellar vocal on the 'If I Never See You Again' produces spine chills in a rare hear- a- pin drop moment. Never an artist known for her overt sexuality, sexier than usual performances of 'Woman's Worth' and 'Unthinkable' follow. But it is 'Fallin' that obviously captures her long-time fans. Under the glow of mobile phone lights that fill the venue, Alicia stops mid song to say “that looks so beautiful”. Later, the crowd rise to their feet, to groove to the reggae infused 'Limitedless' before a cluster of ballads including 'Doesn't Mean Anything' and 'Not Even The King'. Animated graphics of the New York skyline is the back drop for a slightly scratchy rendition of 'Girl On Fire' while the base driven 'New Day' sparks a sudden drum solo by Keys. Then a quick change finds Alicia in a black floor-length gown for a passionate finale of 'Empire State Of Mind'
Watching Alicia Keys at home behind her piano singing her extensive back catalogue is clearly enjoyed by her fans but with a show running of around ninety minutes it seemed slightly too short particularly as she omitted her latest single 'Fire We Make'. Still, with this performance it's clear that the honorary queen of New York is still as fearless as ever.
Review by Karen Lawler