Puff Daddy-produced debut album What's the 411?, the incomparable Ms. Mary J. Blige remains as powerful a performer as ever.
Signature hits like "Real Love" and "Family Affair" in the 17-song Rodeo Houston set made a packed house go absolutely wild Friday night — and rightly so, these are amazing songs.
But it was Blige's selection of covers that easily made the most lasting mark on the evening, showing fans her rightful place as one of the R&B's most unique singers.
Following the usual pre-concert mutton bustin' and a brief fireworks display, Blige opened with the unbelievably catchy '80s hit "Ain't Nobody" by Chaka Khan, the funk-soul diva whose unforgiving and slightly-mysterious vocals surely proved influential through the years.
"Sweet Thing," the smooth Rufus and Chaka Khan hit Blige recorded in 1992, solidified the homage later in the concert, with a cover of the Gap Band's "Outstanding" adding a little more funk to the mix.
The surprise moment of the show came with U2's "One," which she covered with Bono and the boys themselves on her 2006 album The Breakthrough but has stopped playing at most of her live performances in recent years.
After a run through '90s classics like "You Bring Me Joy" and "Be Happy" as well as recent hits like "Be Without You," Blige ended the night with "No More Drama" before driving away on the rodeo floor in a white Ford Mustang . . . Quite the exit.