The newly christened Kia Forum in Inglewood, Calif., oozed with soul Friday night (April 29) as Maxwell and his fellow gurus of love — Joe and Anthony Hamilton — rolled into town for the latest stop on Maxwell’s The Night Tour. As Maxwell proclaimed at one point to a screaming audience, “We’re three Black men here on this stage to celebrate you.”
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Given that this particular tour stop was rescheduled from its original April 15 date owing to COVID-19 protocols, audience anticipation was revved up even higher. However, the R&B trio more than met the demand expected of them, packing a lot into their respective sets. Among the celebs in the audience co-signing their electric performances were Bobby Brown, Kelly Rowland, Lalah Hathaway and Beyoncé’s mom, Tina Lawson.
Maxwell’s 75-minute performance included the faves that have continued to propel his 26-year, five-album career (blacksummers’NIGHT, finale to his 2009-launched trilogy, is due this year). Opening with an energizing take on “Sumthin Sumthin,” the three-time Grammy winner quickly segued into “Dancewitme” and then “Lifetime” before welcoming the audience, thanking them for their ongoing support and launching into “Fortunate.” Rocking the head-crowning Afro that harkens back to his 1996 Urban Hang Suite days, Maxwell also proved he still possesses the sensual, undulating moves that continue to keep his legion of female fans enraptured.
Delving further into his catalog, Maxwell wrapped his warm, mellow vocals around additional songs such as “Bad Habits,” “Stop the World” (even dropping to his knees) and “Pretty Wings.” But just as deliciously pleasing were his detours, like his sexy riff on Prince’s “Do Me, Baby” and a compelling cover of the Heatwave standard “Always and Forever.” Of the latter, Maxwell noted to the multi-generational audience, “This song is for everybody. Your parents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers and your children.”
Rounding out the night’s set list with his latest Billboard Adult R&B No. 1, “Off,” and 2016 hit “Lake by the Ocean,” Maxwell brought the show to an emotional climax with “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder).” At one point, he stood away from the microphone to listen to the whole audience sing an entire verse back to him. A smiling Maxwell wiped at his eyes before exiting the stage and then returning a few minutes later to close with “Whenever Wherever Whatever.”
Joe and Anthony brought their A games, too. Dressed in black pants and shirt, accented by a glittering silver jacket, Joe whisked the audience on a deep-rooted journey back to a host of his own R&B/pop hits including “Stutter,” “All the Things (Your Man Won’t Do)” and “I Wanna Know” as well as his collaborations on faves such as Case’s “Faded Pictures” and Big Pun’s “Still Not a Player.” Along the way, amid shout-outs and screams, the songwriter-producer underscored why his smooth vocals still captivate.
Hamilton’s church-honed vocals also kept the audience on its feet from “So in Love,” his guest collaboration with Jill Scott, to his early 2000 breakthrough hits “Comin’ From Where I’m From” and “Charlene.” Garbed in a black pinstripe suit complemented by a wide-brimmed white hat, Hamilton had fans singing along earnestly to his signature love ballad “Point of It All” as well as Luther Vandross’ “Superstar,” a cover he recorded with Jennifer Hudson for his latest album, Love Is the New Black.
The 25-city Night Tour is the second national arena outing presented by the Black Promoters Collective. Its first was New Edition’s 30-city Culture Tour featuring Jodeci and Charlie Wilson, which wrapped on April 10. The Night Tour continues Saturday night (April 30; rescheduled from April 16) in Oakland, Calif., before ending its run in Florida (Tampa, May 7; Miami, May 8).