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Maxwell, Badu bring night of love

A sold-out crowd turned out Friday night for Part 1 of Maxwell’s two-night tour to Atlanta’s Philips Arena.

The first night featured eclectic songstress Erykah Badu, who had to start her set over after serious sound problems with her microphone during the opening song “20 Feet Tall” from her new album, the sonic “New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh.”

See photos from Friday night’s Maxwell & Erykah Badu concert.

For a while it seemed that Badu was in her own world, hardly connecting with the crowd that didn’t appear familiar with the material she was singing or its flow. Maybe it was the big top hat and the long, black double-breasted jacket that was creating the distraction or at least setting a tone that was certainly different from the lyrics spilling out of her mouth.

She looked like a British toy soldier, but she was singing about unrequited, addictive and desperate love. “I’d pray for you, crochet for you, Make it from scratch for you, Leave out the last for you,” she cooed from “Out My Mind,” also from the new album.

As she took sips of “tea” from a colorful little cup, you were beginning to get the impression that Badu takes herself a little too serious these days, going even deeper out of her neo-soul mind.

But then the “tea” seemed to bring back the real Badu, who began to talk about being gone for a while and what’s she’d been doing: “three babies, different dudes” and “This was my last interview” (showing the crowd the finger she gave the media).

With that, she transformed to the Badu fans know and love with “Didn’t Cha Know” and “… & On” from her sophomore album “Mama’s Gun.” She then shed her formal hat and coat, letting a long reddish mane fall to her shoulders. For the rest of her almost two-hour set, she treated fans to the spicy, sassy, trash-talking, man-loving, manipulating Badu who knows how to hold fans in the palm of hands.

But what about Maxwell, you say?

Not many a headliner would allow his opening act to command more time on stage. Maybe he’s just a gracious tour mate or perhaps Badu does what Badu wants. Regardless, by the time Maxwell came on stage a little after 10 p.m., Badu (and time) had sapped most of the energy out of the arena.

Still, the crowd gave him a wild opening ovation to “Sumthin, Sumthin.” To his credit, Maxwell still has the moves (looking a lot like James Brown with his retro suit and legwork) and still has a great vocal sound and horn section.

But as the night went on, he seemed to know the crowd was fizzling, trying to engage them with constant Atlanta shout outs and even letting the audience take over a good part of the lyrics for one of his best ballads “Woman’s Work.” He reminded fans that when he was in Atlanta last year, the show was crazy, with a couple of women throwing their undergarments on stage. Perhaps the stage set-up prevented the closer contact his female fans live for.

But very few of them left Friday night’s show disappointed, even if the sexual energy was not as intense. His Isley Brothers cover “Don’t say Goodnight (It’s Time for Love)” was certainly a surprise treat. Maybe he’ll make it up with Saturday’s show with Jill Scott.

Are you going to Saturday’s show? If so, check back and tell us what you thought.

10 comments Add your comment

Collette

June 12th, 2010
12:12 pm

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zarinah

June 12th, 2010
1:14 pm

Not from atl but as a visitor I enjoyed this treat of erkah badu ! I was fashionable late but seem to just catch Badu sing her new songs and when I arrived she had bright copper hair straight curled under and large egyptian style earrings like eagle wings. All which were marvelous! She had a bright yellow tshirt and white capri sweat shorts-she rocked it yall! So she sang and drank and did way back and did some old school raps inserts my favorite was ice cube old rap! She even played her keyboard and the drums!!!! She did her thang yall! Do I have time to talk about my baby daddy lol! MAXWELL! He was all that and a bag of chips! He sang we sang we all sang! Of course he through in a couple ad libs lyrics that made all the difference ! What he would do to me in front of all ATL :) he got so into his dancing that he ripped his pants lol! No I couldn’t catch. Glimpse of anything from his rip ladies so he runs and change pants! He got somebody panties black and large and he loved it! He danced with them! Lol! His band was the bomb diggity! They rocked it!

Nicole

June 12th, 2010
2:58 pm

I enjoyed both performances. Not being a true Badu fan, I was somewhat disturbed that she didn’t do more familiar songs like Bag Lady or Better Call Tryone. Also, her extended stay on stage whether it be from the problems with the sound system (?) or not, seemed to cut Maxwell’s performance time. Maxwell was great and engaging. I just wish he could have performed longer. Also, I purchased two tickets for $191 a piece for my husband and myself and was very disturbed to find out that some people only paid $22 for their tickets or were upgraded at the last moment to the seats that we paid $400 plus for.

Collette

June 13th, 2010
6:52 am

I enjoyed both Badu’s and Maxwell’s performances. Both are refreshing talents in a era where most of the people who call themselves don’t have a true talent for singing. I did hate that Badu did not sing Bag Lady or Call Tyrone. Guess I have to catch her Aug. 14th concert at Chastain. Maxwell is the only entertainer singing today that I would pay good money to go see. GREAT SHOW!!!

gg

June 13th, 2010
8:13 pm

Friday night’s show was awesome. I, too, paid full price for floor seats a month ago, and people seated behind paid $22!! I went to the ticket office while Erykah was performing and they traded my row V tickets to row C!!! I danced right in front of Maxwell!!

MrGrce

June 13th, 2010
10:37 pm

We went to the Saturday night show. My first time in the Phillips Arena. Big! Didn’t know I would be so high up, but whatever. Jill was great, Erykah was not on the bill. Wish I could have seen her. My wife and I saw Maxwell last year in Charlotte and loved the show (w/Chisette Michelle and Common). Last year, blacksummerNight was the soundtrack to my summer vacation and Maxwell represented well. Although we enjoyed Saturday night’s show, it wasn’t as good as last years version. I guess after touring an album for a year, I guess it has to change. I thought he played less of the “album versions” and almost like a greatest hits version of the album. The music was good (as usual w/Maxwell) but I thought the arraignments were less about the song they were playing (sometimes if you did have Maxwell singing, you wouldn’t know what song it was from just the music). Maybe that is just me, or because of the sound in the arena.
I’m not sure if it was the height of our seats, but the sound was not good. Very boomy. I wish I could have texted the sound man to tell him to turn down the kick drum (I’m ax ex-drummer, too!).
Overall, good show, I’d give it a 6.5 or 7 out of 10. But we had a great weekend in the ATL celebrating our 10th anniversary. Like the opening comedian said, if the brothers don’t mess up, they are sure to get the cookie. Jill and Maxwell certainly delivered!

Reg

June 14th, 2010
5:19 pm

We drove from Durham, NC to catch the show Friday. A good show but the sound system made it hard to understand the lyrics if you didn’t know the song. I was disappointed Erykah Badu didn’t perform Window Seat.

erika

June 14th, 2010
6:04 pm

I agree with MrGrce, the band seemed to be more overpowering at the saturday show during maxwell’s set. This was my third time seeing maxwell, so obviously i love everything he does, but i did want to pull the song people to the side and say tell them to fix the sound. Overall i thought the show was good, but some songs did seem rushed. I was unaware that 22.00 tix were upgraded to the floor level, especially since i was one of the people who paid 191.00. I would definately go see maxwell again.

[...] tour rolled into Atlanta, Badu did seem to dominate much of the evening. Our colleague Tracy Brown noted in her review, “Not many a headliner would allow his opening act to command more time on stage. Maybe [...]

Sonja

June 19th, 2010
1:02 pm

I didn’t go on Friday night but Saturday night. I have seen Jill Scott several times and each time she gets better and better. It was my first time seeing Maxwell in concert and can I tell you he is da bomb!!!! Oh and he is nastyyyyyyyyyyy lol! almost had me going to get a drink from all that nastiness. All in all I give it an A++ It was a great night!