RodeoHouston review: @MaryJBlige

March 2, 2013
Mary J. Blige is less a performer than a force of nature. To call her a diva seems to diminish her stature. On record, she’s a star. But onstage, she’s unparalleled.

The R&B queen exploded onto the RodeoHouston stage Friday night with a series of songs that typified her joy-and-pain persona. Dressed in white leather and knee-high black boots, she tore through a 20-minute medley that included “Ain’t Nobody,” “Family Affair,” “Enough Cryin’,” “Real Love,” “You Remind Me” and “Love No Limit.” And she barely seemed to break a sweat.

Blige basked in the applause for a few seconds before jumping into the old-school swoop of recent single “Don’t Mind.” The crowd knew every word and often jumped to its feet. She barely had to ask for a singalong.

“Y’all some real beautiful people,” she said.

Her gift is the way she channels raw emotion into every song. (Recent financial troubles likely provided plenty of source material.) Blige is also able to switch moods at the drop of a designer hat. Her take on U2 hit “One” remains majestic; and she seemed near tears, ironically, during “Not Gon’ Cry.” Chaka Khan classic “Sweet Thing,” was a soulful valentine, and feel-good anthem “Fine” had hips swaying and hands in the air.

“We need this one, I know,” Blige declared before launching into set closer “No More Drama.” She attacked it, as always, with the fervor of a gospel revival. The only disappointment? That it was over much too soon.


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