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Mary J. Blige Delivers Strong Show at MGM Grand

October 12, 2010

Mary J. Blige was not far into her career when she was dubbed the "queen of hip-hop soul." And she has gone on to earn that title several times over in the last two decades. Still three months shy of turning 40, the crossover icon made her show Sunday night at the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods a clinic on her singular strengths, igniting a high-speed tour through her well-stocked catalog.

The fast-moving show barreled out of the gate as Blige leapt into "MJB da MVP," a robust flare of personality bursting from each taut syllable. Hair flowing over her large sunglasses, Blige strutted and danced in sky-high boots as a pair of dancers joined her for the percolating R&B throb of "The One."

Blige covered 33 songs in her 100-minute show, performing partial pieces of most numbers near the beginning, including the cool soul anthem "You Remind Me," as three backing vocalists gave it sturdy shape. She typically covered enough of each tune to make it more than an enticing tease, powering through "Real Love" as one of her three keyboard players put spring in its step.

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Blige's tone was brassy and bold, a series of tonal highlights by which to chart the course of the sturdy "Love Is All We Need." She prodded the slinky pulse of "Love No Limit" and was an insistent driver of the throbbing "Good Woman Down."

As the show progressed, Blige delivered tunes in their entireties and amped up her own vocal theatrics at the same time. She tore methodically into "Your Child," wresting every trace of angst from its accusing lyrics. The grooves were frequently simple, but she served up strong flavor as she worked assertively at the passages of "I Am."

There wasn't much of Blige in an offering of "Sweet Thing," as the singer posed while letting her mostly female audience handle much of the song's vocal chores. That crowd enthusiastically joined in for the lively "Not Gon' Cry" and egged on Blige whenever she would get to dancing.

A stripped-down interlude of "Take Me as I Am" gave Blige a chance to sing in a straightforward fashion, matching a soft complement of piano, acoustic guitar and a box drum with a lyrical reading loaded with restrained, soulful grit. More often she was one to let loose, as when she snapped at the lively "Work That" and closed her set with the throbbing party pulse of "Family Affair." An encore of "Be Without You" was more of the same, as Blige urged it forward with unruffled, high-tone resolve that soared above its ample sway.

Mary J. Blige's Sunday set list: "Music Saved My Life," "MJB da MVP," "The One," "Enough Cryin'," "You Bring Me Joy," "Be Happy," "You Remind Me (Remix)," "Real Love," "Everyday It Rains," "I'm the Only Woman," "I Love U (Yes I Du)," "Love Is All We Need," "Reminisce," "Love No Limit," "Mary Jane (All Night Long)," "Good Woman Down," "Everything," "All That I Can Say," "I Never Wanna Live Without You," "Seven Days," "Your Child," "Deep Inside," "I Am," "Sweet Thing," "Not Gon' Cry," "I'm Going Down," "Take Me as I Am," "No More Drama," "I Can Love You," "Work That," "Just Fine," "Family Affair," (Encore) "Be Without You."


http://articles.courant.com/2010-10-11/entertainment/hc-mary-blige-review-1019-20101011_1_queen-of-hip-hop-soul-mjb-da-mvp-real-love

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