Alicia Keys / December 1, 2009 / New York City (Nokia Theatre)
Although the original Dec. 1 release date for her upcoming album, "The Element of Freedom," was pushed back by two weeks, Alicia Keys still paid homage to World AIDS Day by giving a charity concert to a full house at New York's Nokia Theatre Tuesday night.
Keys, sporting all black everything and backed by four singers and a seven-piece band, started off the hour-and-a-half long performance with old hits, including "Karma" and "You Don't Know My Name." She then took it to one of her latest singles, "Doesn't Mean Anything" supported by an interactive screen in the backdrop displaying the song's accompanying video.
"Thank you so much for all of your love and all of your support," Keys said to the audience, some of which were clapping while others yelled "I love you, Alicia!" in anticipation.
"This is one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite albums, so if you know the words, please sing along," Keys said before breaking into the beautiful ballad, "Diary." "I won't tell your secrets/Your secrets are safe with me/I will keep your secrets/Just think of me as the pages in your diary," Keys harmonized as backup singer Jermaine Paul traded lyrics with her and a flute player joined in.
Keys then performed a brand new song from "The Element of Freedom," dedicating it to "all the lovers" in attendance. "No matter how far you are/No matter how long it takes you/Through the distance and time, I'll be waiting," she vowed atop piano strokes and drums on the wistful number.
Sitting behind the piano, Keys followed by playing the familiar, heartwarming tune to "If I Ain't Got You" as the crowd sang along. "This song never ceases to amaze me. No matter how hard life gets, we are unstoppable individuals," Keys assured as an introduction to the next track, "Superwoman."
"I am absolutely, passionately in love with this song right here," Keys said of her current single, "Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart." She then took some time to talk about the importance of World AIDS Day and Keep a Child Alive, saying, "There are 14 million children sleeping with broken hearts because they've been orphaned by AIDS."
At this point, Keys announced she would be choosing five lucky guests to come to Africa with her, but first they had to enter to win by texting the word "Alive" to 90999 and making a small donation to the charity. Excited at the prospect of winning, most of the people in the room obliged and sent their virtual offerings.
Keys then proceeded with "Like You'll Never See Me Again," "Fallin'" and "No One" before closing the show with the remix to "Empire State of Mind." "Cause there's only one place in the world like this. And fortunately we are here right now, and I love this place," she told the thrilled crowd.
"Oooh, New York," the backup singers began as Keys stroked her piano, singing, "Even if it ain't all it seems I got a pocket full of dreams, baby I'm from New York," she belted before surprise guest Jay-Z took the stage to roars to perform their No. 1 duet. "Yeah, I'm from Brooklyn, now I'm down in Tribeca/Right next to De Niro, but I'll be hood forever/I'm the new Sinatra, and since I made it here/I could make it anywhere, Yeah, they love me everywhere," Jay rhymed as the masses rapped along.
"We love you, New York City!" Keys said to her fans, while they clapped and bowed at her for an amazing show.
"Alicia Keys Live! One night. One voice. One life at a time," was held in conjunction with American Express, which not only gave American Express Cardmembers the exclusive opportunity to purchase tickets to the event, but is also donating all proceeds to the "Keep A Child Alive" organization. The concert was also streamed live on YouTube.