Like most music lovers looking to be redeemed from the underwhelming, uninspiring sounds that dominate most of Top 40 FM stations, I viewed the release of Maxwell’s BLACKsummers’night as the return of the savior of soul ready to deliver us from the oversexed, over-auto tune buffoonery that is in heavy rotation. It had been eight years since he had released an album and seven years since he performed live. In the music industry a disappearance that spans that long usually signifies a death sentence as the record label, media and public are on to the next “it” vocalist. But music that possesses a true voice can never fade away into the sunset. His 2008 performance at the BET Awards cemented his resurrection, complete with a new sophisticated look that made his fans fall in love with shy singer from Brooklyn all over again.
So imagine my surprise when I thought my ticket to Maxwell’s June 26 performance at Madison Square Garden would go to waste as I began to suffer the effects of food poisoning. Weak but willing I had nothing but sheer determination to fuel me as I made my way to the Garden. My sickly condition was quickly rectified as Maxwell took the stage for a smorgasbord of music for my soul. Maxwell gave me and the audience a black summers’ night filled with sensual energy and unabashed emotion, which spilled over into tears as Maxwell tried to explain how surreal his musical journey has been. “I come from humble beginnings,” he stated as wiped tears from his eyes.
As a performer Maxwell delivered with more dedication than the mailman – every song seemed to be right on time. He took charge of the band, an awesome group of players, with the same hip shaking male bravado as James Brown. Singing all the audience’s favorite material and channeling the soul singers of the past, Maxwell’s vocal delivery was a sexy, sanctifying sermon that ran the gamut of emotions. One moment I was raising my hand to the sky in recognition of his testimony (fighting my own tears) the next moment I was gyrating in my seat. Like a preacher Maxwell seemed to be singing to each audience member individually reaching down to the core of our souls. He literally sang my pain away and gave the most intimate performance I have ever seen at such a large venue. His show is a testament to supremacy of good music. Maxwell made magic on stage with a live band, background singers and himself. Whether a baby or a great memory was made, the exchange of energy that circulated in the Garden last Saturday left everyone rejuvenated.
Besides leaving his heart and soul on the stage, Maxwell donated a dollar from every ticket sold to charity, helping to heal souls on stage and off. The power music has to stir emotion and restore the soul is undeniable; those with the ability to reach others with sound know that music is a gift. Music has the capacity to open minds, repair hearts and cure food poisoning; it also has the power to fill the soul with love. Hopefully the love Maxwell gave and received on June 26 will inspire him to thrill his audience with the next two installments of the trilogy that started with BLACKsummers’night and encourage him to never stay away that long again.