Maxwell swiftly and smoothly took command during his 90-minute show. Nattily attired in a three-piece black suit, the sleek singer mirrored a tall, cool glass of water as he slaked heated fans’ thirst with his catalog of sumptuous hits (“Sumthin Sumthin,” “This Woman’s Work,” “Bad Habit,” “Fortunate” and “Lifetime”) and audience faves (“Stop the World,” “Fistful of Tears”).
But Maxwell’s shape-shifting voice — from sensuous tenor to heart-melting falsetto — wasn’t the only thing captivating audience attention. So were the limber moves he executed while working the entire stage. Those moves were most apparent during Maxwell’s performance of “Fire We Make.” In reaction to videotaped duet partner Alicia Keys singing her verses, he rocked sensually on his knees before flipping into a sexually charged push-up position.
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Backed by his Swiss watch-precision band, Maxwell rounded out the evening with two finales: “Pretty Wings” plus a spiritual a cappella audience sing-along to “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder).” With no direct mention of a new album or single, Maxwell did thank concertgoers throughout his show.
“Thank you so much for being with me all these years … supporting me through my crazy, crazy life,” he said.
The ever-pleasing Jill Scott warmed up the audience with an energetic 75-minute set that drew from her own impressive cache of songs. Dressed in a sexy, figure-hugging black dress and aided by a rollicking band and exuberant trio of male background singers, the singer proclaimed, “I’m going to sing for you tonight.”
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And she did just that. Amidst ongoing shout-outs of “sing, Jill,” she cruised from fun, sassy and self-empowering to frank and love-struck/love-torn on “Gimme,” “The Way,” “So in Love” to “Rolling Hills,” “A Long Walk,” “Cross My Mind,” “He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat)” and “Hate on Me.” Scott, who noted she is working on a new album, brought the house to its feet on a rousing sing-along to “Golden.”
Opening for Scott and Maxwell were singers Candice Glover and Marsha Ambrosius. Comedian/actor Anthony Anderson served as host of the evening, presented by Progressive. While the breaks between sets were commendably brief, it did prompt the feeling of being short-changed. Especially in the case of Ambrosius, whose show was cut before she had the chance to fully perform her hit “Say Yes.”
BET Experience at L.A. Live’s Staples Center concert series continues tonight (June 28) with a rap lineup headed by Outkast. The duo will be joined by A$AP Rocky, Rick Ross, August Alsina, Rich Homie Quan and Ty Dolla $ign. Following the BET Awards on June 30 (live at 8 p.m. ET), Mary J. Blige, Trey Songz and Jennifer Hudson will close out the Staples concert series, preceded earlier by performances from Mack Wilds, Sevyn Streeter and TGT.
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Other weekend musical highlights include nightly shows at neighboring L.A. Live venue Club Nokia. Friday night Future performed with DJ Khaled & Friends. The Roots are there tonight with Warren G., Red Man, Method Man and Doug E. Fresh. And the first BET Experience gospel choir showcase takes place today as well on the BETX Main Stage in the South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center.