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Alicia Keys, Cathedral Review And Video

Lynda Moyo is inspired by an inspired Alicia Keys

Written by . Published on September 25th 2012.

Alicia Keys, Cathedral Review And Video

SHE’S well known for singing the vocal love letter hook to her home town in ‘Empire State Of Mind’, but last night, Alicia Keys found her spiritual home in Manchester Cathedral. 

Raising the roof with that iconic first high note, for what must have been the umpteenth performance of this song in her career, it seemed like the first time again for Keys.

Taking to the stage in a black and white ensemble with slick cropped hair, the new mum looked every bit as sleek as the keys that brought her to fame. As well as the unusual setting for an arena touring megastar, this gig also brought together a different type of crowd for the night.

Alicia Keys, Manchester CathedralAlicia Keys, Manchester CathedralThe MTV Crashes Manchester guest list was as tight as Keys’ performance pants; a mixture of fellow musicians, Premiership football players, corporate types and competition winners. Yet as Keys shared her musical journey through an eleven year back catalogue of soul stirring ballads, everyone was clearly on the same page.

Describing her appearance at the Cathedral as, “so beautiful. I feel inspired” and  "a real honour" with "an energy that's very different”, Keys, as with many Americans was ever the optimist, even taking a moment to give a shout out to people watching on the big screen amid a downpour in Cathedral Gardens.

True to British form, we later learned there were just a handful of people braving it.

It was probably for the best though. While, screens can give you every angle and close up imaginable, nothing could replicate the atmosphere within the mysterious walls of the historical building. And no song made better use of the Cathedral’s acoustics than her debut single ‘Fallin’.

Raising the roof with that iconic first high note, for what must have been the umpteenth performance of this song in her career, it seemed like the first time again for Keys who closed her eyes and dug deep into her soul for that rousing gospel fervour. It was heavenly.

Moving between a seated position at the piano and owning the stage in her super-high futuristic-looking heels, Keys’ ability to stay pitch perfect, balance, dance and play was mesmerising. The ultimate musical multi-tasker, ‘Empire State of Mind’ showcased just why Jay-Z picked her for the track, saying at the time that her ‘sound and piano talent had struck a chord with him.’

Likewise, a reggae mix of ‘No One’ struck a chord with the entire room as Keys’ attempts to warm up “brisky” Manchester paid off. “They told me this is summer,” she joked, before ending the evening with ‘Not Even The King’  a track from her new album which was co-written by Brit singer Emelie Sande, and the favourite for loved up couples, ‘If I Ain’t Got You’.

MTV couldn’t have picked a better international act for the Cathedral setting. In spite of vast commercial success and her pop star good looks, first and foremost Keys is an extraordinary musical talent. She has her place in the history books literally at her fingertips alongside the greats she so often cites as her inspirations; Nina Simone, Barbra Streisand, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder.

The MTV Crashes Manchester event was created in collaboration with Manchester City Council, who hope the concert will provide worldwide exposure for the city. Somehow, I think Keys might just steal our thunder on that one.

The Manchester Cathedral gig will air on MTV Music channel to 640 million households in 161 countries, on Sunday 28 October.

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Lynda Moyo shared this on Facebook on September 25th 2012.
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