Anyone who braved the Chicago cold for the Maxwell and Mary J Blige show at the United Center was treated to two completely different sets.
Blige kicked off the night and practically took everyone to church. She delivered songs like “No More Drama,” “Not Gon’ Cry,” and “Love Yourself” with so much passion and power. You were ready to drop to your knees and cry with her.
It’s been a rough year for the singer with her public and bitter divorce. It seems she took all that frustration and anger she was feeling and turned it into a message of staying strong. Rather than let it get her down, Blige turned the hectic year into fuel to help her deliver an unforgettable performance.
But it wasn’t all anguish and tears. She kept things upbeat with crowd favorite “Family Affair” and even offered a cover of Chaka Khan’s “Sweet Thing.”
Whereas Blige kept things real and emotional, Maxwell was just the opposite. He aimed to turn the mood romantic with his smooth delivery and slick vocals. Turning out songs like “Bad Habits” and “Lake by the Ocean,” things turned steamy when Maxwell hit the stage. But the show felt imbalanced. Blige’s set was a good 90 minutes, whereas Maxwell’s only clocked in at 75. He also favored hits like “Pretty Wings” and “1990x” over material from his new album. Though he still put on a good show, it seems he should’ve opened the evening.
The King and Queen of Hearts tour was filled with Chicago musicians and singers. Rexsell Hardy Jr. has been Mary. J Blige’s Musical Director and Drummer. Ashley K. Washington sings background vocals for Mary J. Blige and has also just released new music. Darryl “Lil Man” Howell headed up the rhythm section on drums for Maxwell. We look forward to seeing more of our own out touring.