Alicia Keys at Ball Arena
July 27, 2023
All Photos by Ramon Rivas (Not of Denver show)
There is not a bad seat in the house at Alicia Keys’ “Keys to Summer” tour. That is because the tour is set up unlike any other production. Usually for an arena tour, the stage is thrust up against one area of the area making all the seats behind it void. “Keys to Summer” has a unique stage set-up giving everyone in the room a 360 degree view. The stage is center in a diamond with runways running to either end of the arena. One runway leads to a staircase with a small stage at the top. 2 video screens flank the stage above the runways and provide perfect close-ups when the artists isn’t facing you. It is a bold original stage design and makes for an exciting night.
The night begins with Simi (Simisola Bolatito Kosoko) a Nigerian singer, songwriter. She and her band have a short set filled with originals. They have a big sound especially when Simi asks to the audience to “Party like in Lagos.” The tender point of her set was her ballad for her own daughter.
Keys set begins with “Fallin” and Keys emerging from the audience to play the piano in center stage. The piano is glitter and on a turntable so everyone gets to see her. From there to mid-show she goes through a flurry of songs including “Limitedless”, “Teenage Love Affair”, “Karma” and more. She introduces the songs as motivation as much as inspiration. “Underdog” is “For those in doubt…”
The first big surprise of the night is when Keys breaks into “My Boo” and a dancer emerges to perform with and to Keys. It is evocative and beautifully staged.” It also ends part one of the show with the band performing long solos and Keys going for a costume change.
The next set begins with Keys on a smaller piano on the top of the staircase. Here she does a personal and acoustic set that begins with “City of Gods (Part II)” which is truly a loveletter to New York City. She follows it up with “A Woman’s Worth”, and “Superwoman.” When she does “Girl on Fire” she returns to center stage and has the audience captivated.
Keys’ Eurythmics cover of “Sweet Dreams” sets the arena on fire leading to the end of the night. The show is a blockbuster that pleased many generations of fans old and new. It is a wondrous return for a Queen after a hiatus.