Maxwell‘s Black SUMMERS’ Night 2016 tour chose Jacksonville as its final stop for his most recent tour. The tour, named for his long-awaited black SUMMERS’ Night album, chose the perfect town on the perfect night to close out his tour.
The band looked road weary and their energy was visibly low. I almost wanted to give the horn section a hug at one point. The curtains went up late but the crowd was abuzz for the night’s headliner. Maxwell didn’t take long to energize the stage and give the crowd the show that they’ve all been not so patiently awaiting.
The show was a full multimedia experience. Mostly, black and white family and historical photos cycled as the artist warmed up the crowd. The cinematography even caught the artist’s attention from time and time.
Maxwell kept the audience’s eyes and ears wide open as he mixed some of his classics like “Pretty Wings” and “Ascension”. But when his cover of Kate Bush’s “This Women’s Work” started playing the original song with the lyrics plastered on the massive screen that filled the back of the stage the crowd, of mostly women, sat up on the edge of their seats. If there is Karaoke in HEAVEN, this is exactly what it would look like.
This artist knew his audience and knew them well. This gentleman’s beautiful voice has grown more powerful with age as he showed off his range in his soulful stylings. There was an air of Harry Belafonte and Al Green in Maxwell’s soul. He kept his female fans rocking and swaying and then got them out of their plush seats and onto their sexy heels as they were feeling the music. Maxwell reminded the men, that they may not be fans but by coming to his show they are going to get a treat. He even made himself giggle.
The flow of the performance was extraordinary. The 43-year-old performer looked fit and even showed off his dance moves from time to time, which got a nice laugh out of the keyboardist. The more he strutted the more the mostly female audience danced from their seats with him. The level of engagement was extremely high.
Every corner of the Times Union’s auditorium there were people lining the aisles trying to decide between dancing or capturing the video on the cellular. Most of those videos that I caught the videographer having a great time while the phone rocked in the dark auditorium.
Maxwell’s tour may have been long-awaited but it was well worth the wait! The smiles that filled that auditorium, for a brief moment, forgot about all of the troubles in the world and remembered what it was to love music and hear the music that they fell in love too.
Review By Keri Handfield and James Robinson
Maxwell photos by James Robinson