Alicia Keys at United Center | Concert photos and review

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  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

  • Photograph: cousindaniel.com

    Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013

Photograph: cousindaniel.com

Alicia Keys at the United Center | April 18, 2013


At the NBA All-Star Game this past February, Alicia Keys delivered a mess of a halftime show in which she didn't sound the least bit on her game. "More like Alicia *Off* Keys," one viewer tweeted. (Swisssh!)

So my state of mind going into her show last night at the United Center was one of mild skepticism. It was dubbed the "Set the World on Fire Tour," but given her recent inconsistency as a live performer, would the night go down in flames? 

My fears were extinguished, as the Manhattan native showed impressive vocal command and range—whether belting out a big number (e.g., "Empire State of Mind") or delivering a breathy ballad (e.g., "Brand New Me"). And she never strayed noticeably from the pitch. 

"Her voice is so soothing," the middle-aged woman behind me said wistfully. "I could listen to it all day." 

I was thinking the same thing, as Keys reached into the upper registers of her smoky contralto to deliver the wispy "Like I'll Never See You Again" on a stage bathed in blue light, and when she nailed the melisma-laden "Fallin'," backed by a powerful trio of backup singers.

"Sing it, girl," Ms. She's So Soothing shouted.

But throughout the 105-minute show I couldn't escape the thought that portions of her performance were too languid, not so much setting the room on fire (to overuse the metaphor) as lulling us to sleep. The popular title track from Girl on Fire, and jazzier R&B numbers such as "Listen to Your Heart," might be better classified as Rhythm & Snooze. 

That's not to say Keys needs to Beyonc-ify her live act and incorporate complicated choreography, tons of costume changes and other bells and whistles. On this tour, she sticks to the same outfit—a plunging, sparkling red top and tight black pants—until the encore (when she changes into a sparkling red dress). And she doesn't so much dance as kind of slink stiffly around the stage. I just wish Keys stuck to what she does best: singing soulful piano ballads—raw, expressive, just her and a grand piano. Nowhere was that more clear last night than "If I Ain't Got You," from 2003's The Diary of Alicia Keys, which remains as gorgeous as ever.


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