“I talked a lot about New York tonight,” Alicia Keys told the energized crowd at the AO Arena after singing New York City and Empire State of Mind. “Now I want to talk about Manchester.”
The opening bars of The Smiths’ This Charming Man then rang out and, to my amazement, Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr joined a resplendent Alicia on stage. Being an avowed indie fan myself, I’m a music lover enough to have a very eclectic musical taste and to be able to appreciate the beauty of a singer like Alicia Key’s powerful voice.
But I didn’t expect to see her sing The Smiths alongside Marr. It really was a moment.
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Alicia herself emerges from a magical performance at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, where she sang a spellbinding set including Empire State of Mind and changed the lyrics from New York to “London” halfway through to honor the city in which she lives. was playing. next door here for this gig was like her way of honoring Manchester – which she professed to love throughout her set.
Dressed in a black pantsuit and enough sparkling jewelry to rival the Queen, her hair pulled back into a long, jeweled braid, she divided her time between sitting at her piano, dancing, and even disappearing from the street. stage and reappear to perform at the opposite end. of the arena. This gave people in the back a period of fabulous vantage point before Alicia was escorted back through the crowds to the main stage.
Blending old favorites and new material from her 2021 eighth Keys studio album, songs such as Girl On Fire, Fallin’, Superwoman, Empire State of Mind and You Don’t Know My Name had everyone on their feet. As well as singing The Smiths, Alicia also surprised by singing other tracks that weren’t her own, including Crystal Waters’ 90s hit Gypsy Woman (she’s Homeless).
Alicia wasn’t just vocal with the singing, taking time to chat in the arena, offering affirmations and love. “You might not always feel like a superwoman,” she said, “You might not always feel on fire.”
But Alicia was on fire, delivering a smooth but highly charged performance to a warm-hearted audience that wouldn’t let her go when she left the stage. They called her back for an encore that ended with If I Ain’t Got You from her 2003 album The Diary of Alicia Keys.
Alicia’s range and tone were more moving than ever, enough to give goosebumps, enough to mentally transport you to her part of the world. Bringing some of his Jubilee magic to Manchester – it was a polished performance that certainly brought a touch of New York to the arena and with Marr’s shocking appearance many left in a Manchester spirit .
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