Grammy award-winning R&B singer-songwriter Maxwell made a recent stop at The Theater at MGM National Harbor as part of the 50 Intimate Nights Live Tour. It has been over 20 years since the release of his debut album, Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite (1996), but the silky soul singer showed that he’s still got it!
Maxwell, along with artists like Erykah Badu and D’Angelo, have been credited as the originators of neo-soul. The genre that dominated the late ‘90s and early aughts incorporated jazz, funk, and hip-hop into a contemporary R&B sound.
During the Oct. 4 show, Maxwell performed many quintessential neo-soul songs from Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite. The MGM audience danced and sung along to the timeless “Sumthin’ Sumthin’,” as well as the Go-Go infused version of “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)” and the sexy “…Till the Cops Come Knockin’.”
Maxwell’s music has always been about adult romance, which can be read as “babymaking music.” During the show, he performed his new single “Shame,” which explored love from a more nuanced perspective. The lyrics were about self-love in an age where social media creates alternate realities that are disingenuous.
“The song is about removing that mask of expectation and letting go of the shame of being real and vulnerable,” Maxwell said in a statement (according to Pitchfork). “Shame,” will appear on the final installment of the blacksummers’NIGHT album trilogy, which has been slated for a 2019 release.
Listen to “Shame” by Maxwell on YouTube:
Maxwell has often been compared to Prince for his vocal delivery. The gifted singer had a perfect falsetto pitch during his performance of “Pretty Wings,” from BLACKsummers’night (2009), as well as “1990x” and “Lake By the Ocean,” both from blackSUMMERS’night (2016).
The charismatic performer is a talented musician, but he also has a sense of humor. “Where are the married people,” he asked the audience. After pausing to gauge the crowd’s response, he smiled and then said, “Good, now I know who’s single.” May we all have at least one day in our lives that we’re as smooth!
Maxwell dedicates “Lifetime,” from the Now album (2001), to those that are wrongfully imprisoned. The song’s lyrics, which at first listen seem to be about a relationship, took on new meaning when presented through a socially conscious lens. “I can let my life pass me by or I can just try and try” can easily be the thoughts of someone looking at the bleak prospects of a life sentence. Maxwell appears to be joining other artists who are using their music to make statements on social issues.
The show was a journey through Maxwell’s hits and a glimpse into things to come. The Brooklynite may be an R&B veteran with many years in the game, but he still has tons to give. His fans across the world and those that were at the MGM last week are here for it!
Here are some photos of Maxwell performing at The Theater at MGM National Harbor on Oct. 4, 2018. All photos copyright and courtesy of Will Colbert.