Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Maxwell in Concert

Here are some more images from the great Maxwell concert I attended last Tuesday evening (October 21) at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis.

As you’ll see from these images, Maxwell is one handsome groover and crooner.

His beautiful voice, however, has got to be heard to be believed.

Here’s how one reviewer recently attempted to describe it: “Maxwell’s voice tickled like fingertips on the back of a neck and glided between that sweet falsetto and a deep rumbling growl. Al Jarreau meets Isaac Hayes.”

As I mentioned in a previous post, Maxwell was a key voice in R&B’s neo-soul era of the late 1990’s and, until quite recently, had been on a hiatus since the release of his 2001 album, Now.

Yet his back making music with his current U.S. tour and his forthcoming album, Black Summer’s Night, the first of a trilogy that will be released over the next three years.

Thomas Kintner’s Hartford Courant review serves well for Maxwell’s Minneapolis appearance – right down to the noting of the concert’s delayed start.

[Maxwell’s] set didn’t begin until an hour after the opening act [which in Minneapolis involved a guy playing a synthesizer!] had finished because Maxwell arrived late. But he settled comfortably into the shoulder-loosening groove of his smooth-contoured opener, “Get to Know Ya.” His subtly rich vocal manner nestled into the springy vibe of “Noone,” and showed the strong Prince influences that inhabit much of his music as he shaped a cool falsetto lead for his simmering cover of Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work.”

Sporting neat, close-cropped hair rather than the explosive afro that was once his signature, Maxwell dipped into Rat Pack chic for his look. He wore a tuxedo with the tie undone, and sneakers that suited the loose dancing with which he accompanied “Sumthin’ Sumthin’.” The three brass players in his 10-piece band served as supporting vocalists when they weren’t playing, their voices filling out the sturdy, pulsating flow of “Everwanting: To Want You to Want.”

. . . He closed his set with a mix of his voice’s high end and its lean, silky baseline for the juicy sweep of “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder).” From his knees he charged the breezy encore “Whenever Wherever Whatever,” dressing the number with the suave disposition that he exudes almost effortlessly.

Here’s the Soul Bounce review of Maxwell’s October 10 Radio City Hall concert. It captures well the look and vibe experienced at his October 21 concert in Minneapolis.

There was really nothing intricate about the stage setup. It was “Big Band” reminiscent, almost, complete with a horn section. The entire band had on suit jackets; the lone female background vocalist a pink gown. There were no laser light displays or skyscraper sized LCD screens. But when Maxwell finally appeared at the top of a short staircase mid-stage, bathed in bright purple lights, black tuxedo jacket and slacks, white dress shirt perfectly unbuttoned, bow tie casually draped around his neck, short curly hair tightly coiffed, it was all the decoration the audience required. The screams were deafening. Even the fellas had to give it up.

Yes, well, this “fella” didn’t need much prompting.

See also the previous Wild Reed post:
The Return of Maxwell

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

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