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Matson on Music

Music news, concert reviews, analysis and opinion by music writer Andrew Matson.

June 3, 2010 at 2:27 AM

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Concert review: Maxwell at KeyArena 06/02/10

Posted by Andrew Matson

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"The only thing that's gonna be tweetin' and pokin' tonight is me," said Maxwell during his song "Stop The World," acting out a scenario where he convinces his partner to forget about Twitter and Facebook and instead concentrate on having mind-blowing sex.

"I'm gonna write my name all over your wall."

The crowd went wild for that one.

There was a lot of sexual energy in KeyArena last night and neo-soul/R&B star Maxwell controlled it like a pro, making free with snappy head turns and gyrational prancing in his tight-fitting gray suit. Women far away from the stage downed plastic glasses of wine and threw their hands in the air for hours, exhausting themselves. Women in the front dove on his sweat towel when he tossed it out. Everyone looked like they were in their 30s.

Horny as things got, Maxwell always managed to keep the vibe somewhat cerebral — the "wall" joke is pretty clever to me — and appeal to hearts as much as bodies, working with an already palpable love-y feeling in the arena. I sat next to a guy wearing basketball shorts with a tattoo on his face, and even he was in the mood, swaying and holding his woman.

Most everyone else in attendance was dressed up, with gowns and suits not uncommon, and clearly making a night of the show, drinking like it, cheering like it, paying for it. The common units of attendance were a couple or a group, with white people in the minority.

Maxwell's vocal performance was perfectly finessed, showcasing a vaguely nasal tenor one moment and an airy falsetto the next. Up close, he was obviously feeling his songs, sweating and smiling, but he also seemed to be almost not trying, hitting notes a little too cleanly for how briskly he strutted the stage.

Audience members responded to his every movement and utterance, giving the concert a hyper-focused feeling that only happens when tens of thousands of people get on the same page. The page last night was love. The room may have been the most positive in Seattle.

Maxwell's band was great, too, particularly keys man Robert Glasper, who played the scratchy, bell-like hook on "Pretty Wings," the most beautiful song of the evening. It came crushing thick and twinkly out of humongous speakers, Glasper gently clanging away and Maxwell skipping with his voice.

After all his band members introduced themselves and Maxwell walked off the stage, people outside KeyArena on 1st Avenue did double-fisted handshakes, saying, "It was SO nice to meet you." It was like grown and sexy church.

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Photos by me

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