It’s been a while since Alicia Keys did her thing in the charts and I have to admit that I didn’t realise quite how much I missed her.
If her new single ‘In Common’ didn’t excite my life enough, Miss Keys (or should I say Mrs Alicia Dean) announced that she was having a one-off gig at the oh-so-cool Village Underground in Shoreditch, London last month.
Getting a ticket for the night from the lovely lot of Purple PR literally made my day and I giddily ran down to claim my spot at the intimate venue alongside all the other eager fans.
The night started with a history in early Hip Hop from the DJ and as I stood there soaking it all in, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was necessarily the right way to get a crowd ready for the show. I think we all had visions that the gig would be quiet, intimate and pretty calm, so blasting heavy beats seemed to be a bit of an odd choice.
But it all made sense when Alicia finally hit the stage.
Rocking a baggy outfit and going make-up free, because she is too empowered to be forced to wear it anymore, her look said everything about her current vibe in life and music – care-free, embracing her natural essence and feeling super-duper fly.
I was reminded why I love her so much when she told the crowd that she wanted to start the gig with a prayer – something she does before any jamming session. Alicia isn’t playing any of the PR games that still dominate the music industry. She’s made her name and earned the right to do things the way she wants to, even if it might weird some people out. I loved it.
About 30 seconds into the opening song, she restarted so that the crowd could ‘hear every word’. If you were wondering what this next album was going to be like then I can tell you know – it’s nothing like we’ve heard from her before.
Twenty-eight thousand days is a song she wrote about making the most in life after reading an article that made her realise we only have so many days on this Earth, Pawn It All sees her discuss what she would give up for love and happiness while the moving power ballad Hallelujah perfectly showed off her famous vocals.
Of course she treated us to booming renditions of her hits Fallin’, Girl On Fire, Empire State Of Mind (part II) and You Don’t Know My Name.
But the best part of the night was when Alicia did a ‘Drake and Kanye’ and brought up some British talent to join her on the stage.
Explaining that she believed these young women were on fire, she invited female grime stars Nadia Rose and Lady Leshurr to perform their hits.
Considering these girls don’t even get mainstream radio play in the UK, it was amazing to think that THE ALICIA KEYS not only knew who they were, but also liked their art. Incredible.
Alicia Keys was on the stage with Lady Leshurr telling me to brush my teeth… I never thought I would see the day. She also brought Wretch 32 up for the fun of life.
As I left the show, I have to admit I finally understood how Swizz Beatz and Alicia fell in love with each other. You could almost imagine them sitting together in the studio, exchanging stories about their favourite Hip Hop tracks.
We are all a bit guilty of forgetting that Alicia grew on the hard streets of New York. While she might be sweet and classy on the piano, you have to remember she had a gritty edge from her youth which means she can deliver so much more than what we expect sometimes.
I honestly can’t wait to get a full listen to her evolution when this record is finally dropped worldwide.