×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Maxwell and Jill Scott

Neo-soul troubadour wasted little time establishing a brazenly babymaking mood.

Midway through his lubricious 90-minute set at the sold-out Staples Center on Saturday night, neo-soul troubadour Maxwell momentarily silenced the feminine squeals that had been raging throughout the show, and addressed the men in attendance on the intended function of his music: “I’m just the appetizer,” he told them, implying that they were responsible for providing their dates with the main course afterward. Such was the brazenly babymaking design of the night, and even if some of the man’s musicianship was lost in all the seduction, he certainly accomplished what he set out to do.

Opening with the tellingly-titled “Sumthin Sumthin,” the 37-year-old Brooklynite wasted little time establishing a mood, looking sharp in a retro gray suit that seemed to further elongate his sticklike frame. With his reedy tenor confident and his falsetto impeccable — though now colored by a pleasant hint of raspiness — the crooner effortlessly nailed songs primarily culled from last year’s “BLACKsummers’night,” his critical and commercial comeback after spending most of the past decade on hiatus.

His nine-piece band was solid though occasionally a bit bombastic on the beefier tunes (“Help Somebody,” for instance, quickly devolved into a muddy vamp). They seemed far more comfortable retreating into the background to allow their frontman to work his mojo on slow grooves like “… Till the Cops Come Knockin’,” which seemed to suit the singer’s intentions just fine.

Of course, even the most expert come-on can be derailed by too much forwardness, and Maxwell ran that risk on occasion. R. Kelly-penned hit “Fortunate” was embellished with some genuinely X-rated adlibs, and an otherwise effervescent cover of Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work” hit a strange snag when the singer interrupted the falsetto-driven, emotionally wrenching second verse to deeply intone, “I wanna be your baby’s daddy.”

These loverman gestures were ravenously received, of course, and it could be an interesting endeavor in micro-sociology to study spikes in the local birthrate nine months after Maxwell’s visit to a particular city.

Yet when it all came together, as it did on exquisite show-closer “Pretty Wings” — Maxwell’s finest song, and surely a first-ballot contender for the Slow-Jam Hall of Fame — it was impossible to deny the soulman’s mastery of mood, and difficult to reckon how the music world managed to get by without him for so long.

Opener Jill Scott stuck to an equally boudoir-oriented theme for her set (even decorating her stage with silhouetted go-go dancers in lightboxes), although she tempered it with an appealingly grounded persona. Blessed with a wildly expressive face, onstage ease, and a Puccini-strength soprano, Scott was all heart and little flash, a fact best illustrated by her refusal to indulge in wardrobe changes.

Maxwell and Jill Scott

Staples Center, L.A.; 18,000 seats; $252 top

Production: Presented by Live Nation. Reviewed June 5, 2010. Performers: Maxwell, Jill Scott. Also appearing: Guy Torry.

More Music

  • Neyla Pekarek

    Watch Neyla Pekarek's Michel Gondry-Inspired Cardboard Kitsch Video (EXCLUSIVE)

    Neyla Pekarek’s post-Lumineers solo career is off to a strong start with a show at the Opry at the Ryman on Saturday night and the Monday release of her new video for the song “Train.” The clip was directed by Los Angeles’ Liza Nelson and features Pekarek riding a cardboard constructed locomotive in a look reminiscent [...]

  • Benny Andersson, Anni Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha

    Abba’s New Music Delayed Until Later This Year

    Abba fans rejoiced last April when the group, which split up 35 years ago, announced that they had recorded two new songs for a “Virtual Abba” experience in collaboration with “American Idol” creator Simon Fuller. The project first announced in 2016, and was scheduled to premiere, via digital versions of band members, on NBC and ABC [...]

  • Erykah Badu Attempts to Clarify Her ‘Prayer’

    Erykah Badu Attempts to Clarify Her ‘Prayer’ for R. Kelly

    Erykah Badu took to Twitter Sunday night in an attempt to clarify her “prayer” for R. Kelly, which she spoke about during a Saturday concert in Chicago. “I don’t know how everybody else feels about it but I’m putting up a prayer right now for R.,” she said to the crowd before referencing the longstanding [...]

  • Harry Connick Jr.

    Harry Connick Jr. Swears Off Super Bowl After Saints Defeat

    Tempers flared during today’s NFC championship game between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams at the Super Dome after a controversial non-call on a potential pass interference penalty and head-to-head hit by L.A. defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman, who slammed into Saints pass receiver  Tommylee Lewis on a crucial third-down play. The ref’s decision [...]

  • Editorial use only. No merchandising.Mandatory Credit:

    Lady Gaga Slams Government Shutdown, Mike Pence at Vegas Residency

    Lady Gaga took a short break from singing “Million Reasons” at her Saturday performance of “Enigma” in Las Vegas to slam the president for the continued government shutdown. While sitting at the piano for her performance, Gaga broke into a takedown of the government shutdown and Vice President Mike Pence, who has been in the [...]

  • maggie rogers

    Album Review: Maggie Rogers' 'Heard It in a Past Life'

    Maggie Rogers earned one of those very rare “Saturday Night Live” slots in which a musical guest is booked onto the show well in advance of her major label debut album’s release — two and a half months prior, in this case. And the scrutiny of such an appearance is not always pretty. Rogers’ “SNL” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content