Alicia Keys, Unleashed
The singer opens new doors and jumps out of her cage onstage during her Freedom Tour.
Stage drama aside, Alicia's professional journey hasn't been that rough. Each of her four albums has debuted atop Billboard's charts. After almost a decade in the public eye, her reputation is pristine; no drugs, no arrests, no stage-crashing and no "George Bush doesn't care about Black people" noteworthy quotes. But dressed as she was in the Garden, she appeared ready to show us another side.
In a red coat, black tank top, matching skintight sequined pants and black too high heels, this was not the Keys we know. This was Alicia Keys 4.0, if you will. Her long hair was out free from braids or beads, wavy and flowing. Several minutes passed before she hit a chord on her keyboard. And the once frail R&B starlet has curves now, which she worked. During a synthed up version of her Kanye West-produced 2003 hit "You Don't Know My Name," she joined her three dancers for a few choreographed steps. It obviously isn't her forte, but she tried. The song's change -- originally it was a ballad where Alicia's a shy Cinderella hoping to be noticed by her Prince Charming -- felt forced. However it made perfect sense coming from a woman trying to shake off the girl-next-door image.
Keys was at her best settling down at her piano. After a dramatic pause and water break, she jumped into "Fallin'" as a burning, bleeding heart dripped on the video screen.
She stepped away for second to sing her jazzy "I Need You" from her third album As I Am. But quickly returned to the keys after her acoustic piano (again, literally) said "Play me" via the LED lights on its side. She ran through measured cuts like "Pray for Forgiveness," "Diary" and one of her few slow jams, "Like You'll Never See Me Again."
Alicia's sex appeal cranked up a few notches as she turned the piano into her mattress and lay on top of it during "Wait Til You See My Smile." Such a display was not her style, nor would it have been desirable years ago. Similar to the guest star she'd soon surprise her fans with, Alicia's a sultry vixen now, as well as an artist.