For her official album release concert, Alicia Keys brought ‘HERE‘ to the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York on Saturday night (Nov. 5). The marquee on the front of the famed venue read “Alicia is HERE,” as a small sea of adorning fans anxiously waited to enter the building.
With all the seats filled, the concert event opened with a showing of Key’s new short film, The Gospel, which was inspired by her experiences growing up in New York City. Following the film, the night’s headliner made her entrance on stage and dived into a spirited performance on the piano of the album’s first song “The Gospel.”
“Are we in Harlem tonight?!” Keys asked the packed Apollo Theater. Her tones echoed off the theater’s walls as she segued into “Pawn It All,” peeling back it’s layers and slowing down the tempo. “This song right here makes me have to get a chair,” she said before her impassioned delivery of the Emeli Sande-assisted track “Kill Your Mama.” “Is there any saving us, we’ve become so dangerous / Is there any change in us, even for the sake of love,” Keys laments in the heart-tugging lyrics.
Alicia mentioned that Sande is her “writing soulmate” and the two co-wrote the song after sharing an interest in Native American folk music. “I wanna dedicate this song to Standing Rock,” she continued. “And all the people who are fighting to save our water and our sacred land.”
Keys continued to unmask her story with the “love letter to New York” double-track “She Don’t Really Care_1 Luv.” Amid her lively performance, the Grammy Award-winning songstress called upon acclaimed jazz composer and vibraphonist Roy Ayers for a solo electronic breakdown on the soulful track.
Without missing a beat, Keys ripped through the rest of Here’s collection with fluorescent purple lights permeating throughout the venue as she swayed to the rhythmic melodies, like the self-empowerment cut “Illusion of Bliss,” “Blended Family (What We Do For Love)” and “More Than We Know.”
Alicia ended her performance with the socially-charged hymn, “Holy War,” and sent the audience home with a message about voting.
“I hope that on Nov. 8, when you go out and vote — when we go out and vote — we choose to build bridges,” Keys offers to the crowd and was met with roars of praise and claps. “I hope we choose to break walls … I hope we vote love.”