Maxwell’s music proved to be just as timeless as ever when he brought his show to Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island. Despite the overcast, grey weather, Maxwell kept us moving and grooving to his soulful sounds even after it started pouring rain.
Never one to come empty handed, opening the night was Ro James, an NYC based singer/songwriter, whose debut album, ELDORADO, made waves on the Billboard charts. His live performance was full of high notes, including when he invited a young lady onstage with him to dance while he serenaded her with one of his biggest hits, “Permission.”
Beginning with black and white images splashed across the screen, culminating with flames and the title of his newly released blackSUMMERS’night, Maxwell, clad in an impeccably tailored soft grey suit, strode out onstage with shades covering his eyes and 5,000 screaming fans in front of him. Growing up a Brooklyn, NY native, this homecoming seemed to both overwhelm and inspire him at various points during the night.
Having followed Maxwell’s career from the very beginning with his wild afro and laments of “Til The Cops Come Knockin,’” this grownup version of Maxwell proved he still has the voice and impeccable showmanship that he has carefully and meticulously cultivated over the years.
A career spanning set of his songs “Lake By The Ocean,” “Dance Wit Me,” “Bad Habits,” “This Woman’s Work,” “Lifetime,” “Fortunate,” and “Pretty Wings,” to name just a few, he worked every inch of the stage, taking moments to showcase some surprisingly good dance moves, and highlight his incredible band, with undoubtedly one of the best horn sections and background vocals in the business.
While Maxwell has found himself in a bit of hot water recently on social media regarding his views on gun control and the #blacklivesmatter movement, his set definitely served to lift everyone’s spirits for a few hours and unite all of us under that tent with our most universal language. Standing next to complete strangers, we all danced, laughed and joked during the show, momentarily forgetting the pain and strife of the past few days. It was the perfect ending to one of the most difficult weeks.
After an emotional response to the crowd belting out the lyrics for “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder),” he made sure to thank everyone, including those within arms reach, bending down to the front row to shake everyone’s hands, sign autographs, pose for photos, and sign posters. From what I’ve seen of Maxwell over the years, his connection to the fans and the intimacy of truly interacting and touching the people is incredibly important to him and something that hasn’t seemed change since the start of his career.
With 20 years in the game, his incredulousness at the massive crowd’s response to his music, even after lengthy hiatuses, proves that Maxwell’s music and sound are truly timeless. With the blacksummers’NIGHT installment of his trilogy still yet to be released, I can only expect he will continue the trend of making beautiful, mature, honest and undeniably sexy music.
Article: Lesley Keller