After a two-year local concert absence, Brooklyn-based singing sensation Maxwell made a seductive return to Southern California at the near-hysterical Universal Amphitheatre on Tuesday, the first of three sold-out nights.
The talented vocalist didn’t quite live up to the Al Green and Marvin Gaye comparisons he’s been saddled with, but he did put on a spellbinding, often tear-inducing performance that reaffirms his standing as one of the most compelling artists in contemporary R&B.
Dressed as smooth as his silky voice in a bright white suit, the 25-year-old Maxwell romanced the receptive audience with a succession of undeniably sexy movements (both musical and physical) that had all in the house swooning.
Suggestive song titles — such as “Matrimony: Maybe You,” a suave ode to monogamy; “Whenever, Wherever, Whatever,” which Maxwell performed with a curtain between himself and his somewhat faceless 8-piece band; and “Everwanting: To Want You to Want,” from his 1998 album “Embrya” — reveal where the singer’s and the audience’s minds were for this 90-minute show, which was a virtual two-way love fest between performer and listener.
Before “Matrimony,” Maxwell recalled to the female-dominated audience how, when he was younger, he had to sit in the back rows at concerts because he couldn’t afford to get seats up front, after which one of his assistants escorted two weak-kneed and screaming girls to a pair of front-row chairs.
Show closed with a sweeping version of “Fortunate,” Maxwell’s current top-10 hit off the Rock Land/Interscope soundtrack from Imagine’s Eddie Murphy/Martin Lawrence pic “Life.”