Buckingham Palace erupts in flames as an 80-piece orchestra carries the chorus to jubilant “oh-ho-ho-ho” highs – surely one of the most majestic moments at Queen Elizabeth II’s recent jubilee concert in London. Alicia Keys had set it with her song “Girl On Fire”, which she performed in a black cape with gold applications.
Anyone who assumed that the American musician might have motivation problems on her own tour after this performance will be taught otherwise on Tuesday evening at her concert in Berlin’s Benz Arena at the latest with “Girl On Fire”.
Although only a relatively small fireball lights up the screen here, the singer throws her full vocal power into the chorus – and is accompanied by a much louder and more passionate audience than in London. Instead of a few laxly waving Union Jack royal family flags, Alicia Keys is now looking at a heaving mass of waving arms.
The song with the thunderstorm drum prelude is a highlight of the two-hour show, which has an enormous pull right from the start and relies on a powerful sound. The first three songs let Keys and her band of five flow right into each other. It’s reminiscent of a performance show as they soon sweep away the laid-back reggae groove of “Waste Energy” with the pounding beat of “Time Machine,” the guitarist churns out a raw riff, and Alicia Keys rushes to the Moog synth at the edge of the stage for the finale , to elicit wafting space sounds from it.
These first 45 minutes are dominated by tracks from the strong 2020 album “Alicia”. But the singer doesn’t seem to trust them completely. Presenting them mostly in condensed, fused versions, she always seems a little rushed as she plays standing for a few bars on her grand piano, which magically changes position between songs.
For the first time, the 41-year-old takes a lot of time with her old tearjerker “Diary” – and immediately lets the temperature in the boring multi-purpose hall rise a few degrees.
It could go on like this, but it doesn’t. Because Alicia Keys disappears from the stage and reappears – after a costume change in a glittery body and with a shiny stocking cap – on a small pedestal in the middle of the arena.
Surrounded by piano, synth and drum machine, she performs a competition with songs from her last album “Keys”: She alternately plays snippets of the acoustic “Originals” and the electronic “Unlocked” versions. The fans vote by applause which one they like better.
That completely takes the flow out of the show, but Alicia Keys has fun and enthusiastically hits the button with the nasty horn signal again and again. She wants to party – nothing is heard from her political side, such as her Black Lives Matter songs, that evening.
The party really takes off, however, as Keys walks back through the interior to the stage and sings her version of the Jay Z duet “Empire State Of Mind” with the crowd, replacing “New York” with “Berlin” twice. From here it’s greatest hit time: “Girl On Fire”, “Superwoman”, “Fallin'”, “Underdog” and finally “No One” – all included in the brilliant last third, in which the band even includes a house segment installs. Alicia Keys dances like the stage is a club.
Nobody stays in their seats anymore. It’s a successful reunion, rounded off by two intimate encores. And the party of the longest day is still going on outside.