Live Review: Jill Scott

25 November 2013 | 9:56 am | Bryget Chrisfield

"While shuffling toward the exit, the chick behind us sums it up: “How crazy was that?""

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The houselights dim. A random in the balcony yells out, “I'm so EXCITED!” Giggles and applause. As Jill Scott's ten-piece backing band file out, we notice a Persian rug rolled out in front of the mic to soften the stage surface for her skyscraper heel-clad feet. From the dress circle, it resembles a flying carpet. Scott eventually sashays out in a teal onesie and she's all woman. “Ima take you back a little bit,” she explains. Love Rain is an immediate display of virtuosity. Scott is a true diva from back before negative connotations crept into the definition of the word. 

During one sax solo, Scott's saxophonist drops to his knees and quite literally blows her away as she gyrates to the beat. So intense is this dose of sexual healing that we feel a little guilty watching. And then we're grateful the houselights aren't on so our blushes are concealed. Even Jill Scott oughta make love to the songs of Jill Scott! The Pipes, Scott's trio of suave backing vocalists, throw down the smoothest of choreographed moves all night long. Is one of them really called Blue Suede?

Scott pours her soul out through song and each intro provides context. Quick details the demise of her relationship with drummer John Roberts and the birth of their son Jett, underscored solely by the rhythm section. Mid-song, Scott instructs, “Slow down, let's start over,” and we get the impression she feels this way about aforementioned relationship also. At song's close, Scott morosely shakes her head, pausing mid-sentence before turning and wandering slowly away from the mic, slightly slumped. It's devastating to watch.

Sometimes Scott's spoken word intros are drowned out by the volume of instrumentation, as in the Cross My Mind intro, and she's so invested in every nuance that we strain as best we can to digest every syllable. Sure, there are a lot of 'jilted' stories, but An Evening With Jill Scott ultimately empowers. “I count my blessings every day,” she confirms. Although blatantly showing off, when Scott sings in Spanish she could melt Antarctic tabular icebergs.

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They've already gone 20 minutes overtime, but Scott and co return for a genuine encore. Finishing with And I Heard… (Do You Understand), which Scott claims to have sleep-written, the houselights stay on and we're all on our feet. As we sing it out – “Do you understand what you feel inside?” – the band leaves the stage and Scott remains, our spiritual conductor. While shuffling toward the exit, the chick behind us sums it up: “How crazy was that?”