photo by: Theo Wargo
Alicia Keys in Boston, a total superwoman experience.
“Whoever’s first concert it is tonight, I’m so happy that you’re here with me…this was such a special night, what a magical night,” Alicia Keys said with a smile over a slight acoustic strum at the conclusion of “No One”. And she was right. Magic it was as Keys graced the Boston waterfront stage for the first time since 2013.
From the opening “Take off your coat, take off your clichés. Show off a side that no one sees. You got the whole world right here in your pocket,” welcoming of Nat King Cole, Keys extended an invitation to each person in the audience to stay in the two-hour moment with her.
Artist Waves had the thrill of taking an eight-year-old to her first concert this evening. But what exactly does that mean? You often hear people ask the question, “What was your first concert?” Whether it’s to serve as an ice-breaker, a random thought when you’ve reached a dead end road, or out of pure curiosity – the question opens the door to a world of possibilities in response.
For us, Alicia Keys in Boston was two years in the making. You see, we asked a young lady, let’s call her Lucy, in early 2020, for your very first concert, who would you like to see? “Alicia Keys!!!,” she replied before the sentence even finished. Perfect! The ALICIA world tour had just been announced a few weeks early (January 21, 2020) to be exact. Then… well, the rest of 2020 happened. You know the drill, tours canceled, postponed to 2021 only to be postponed again, and an eruption of mass-confusion in a pandemic world.
For Lucy, it meant homeschool and home creativity. The yellow walls of her bedroom became soundboards for a Tuesday/Thursday home music class, where I would often find her singing Keys’ “Girl On Fire”, strumming along on a teal toy ukulele. As the months turned to a year, I asked Lucy if she was ready to go see her first show now that outdoor concerts were returning.
“Is Alicia Keys playing!!???”, she’d ask. I’d explain, the new dates hadn’t been revealed yet, and I’d be happy to take her to something else in the meantime, given her unwavering love of and curiosity for the arts.
Nope! There was only one artist who could claim Lucy’s first concert. Aside from wanting to hear all her favorite songs, the wonder of child leads me to believe that subconsciously, she knew seeing Keys would have a profound impact that she could always carry with her.
photo by: Theo Wargo
Throughout the two-year wait, Keys found news ways to deeply connect with fans. Her encouraging text messages of love often brought a smile and a hope to keep being that “beautiful you.” ALICIA was released in September of 2020, right when we all needed to hear we’re doing a “Good Job”. KEYS followed a little over a year later, with KEYS II hitting airwaves everywhere this month.
With an S on her chest, Keys turned what would have been her 2020 ALICIA tour into the ALICIA + KEYS tour. A more accurate snapshot of now, filled with love, unity and encouragement. Still taking place in Boston on the second Tuesday of August, Keys and her band played all 31 songs with a smile, appreciating the moment and opportunity to be Only You.
photo by: Theo Wargo
So, back to my original question – what did this first concert mean to young Lucy? Aside from the obvious – an experience she’d never forget, especially when Keys tickled her neck with a grin while walking down the stadium aisle singing “Empire State of Mind”, Lucy described her night as something that made her feel like a Girl on Fire. Like the world is hers for the taking where sometimes being an underdog is a plentiful blessing. It taught her, that when she achieves billions, then it’s time to reach for trillions. But most importantly, Alicia Keys in Boston / Lucy’s first concert served as an extension of what Keys has been artistically expressing to youth, women and fans alike around the world consistently – we all have a lot in common. And through our uniqueness we find our differences. So let’s celebrate the dreamers. As the authors of forever, we embrace the space between us.
photos by: Theo Wargo
Because of this concert, Lucy experienced the true meaning of being in the moment. She sang at the top of her lungs and then she sang some more. She learned the thrill of feeling gratitude at the accomplishment of persevering. She witnessed an artist practicing what she preaches and being overly generous with her gift. She observed the power of inclusion where 4,000 people agree – wherever you are in life, tonight it’s alright because you are here.
As Keys concluded her set opener – she honored her name by gracing the keys and gliding the words “Be Unforgettable”, over the top. Perhaps it was simply a chance for Keys to start the show off by singing a line to herself – because an unforgettable lifelong memory it was.