By Juron Traill
TAMPA – Global songstress Alicia Keys returned to Tampa on Sept. 18 for an intimate concert from her Alicia + Keys World Tour to support her new albums.
The 15-time GRAMMY winner opened the show in a bedazzled jumpsuit hugged by a trench coat, strutting into “Nat King Cole” accompanied by crooning strings and heavy bass, as if she’s some type of spy sneaking in for her audience. She belted notes that were sure to shake up the walls of the Seminole Hard Rock Casino.
Occasional listeners might have expected Keys to be dropping ballads throughout the night with her fingers on the ivories but she surpassed expectations. She dropped reggae-tinged tunes like “Wasted Energy”, played gospel collaborations like “Nobody” and danced afrobeat to “In Common.” Her album “ALICIA” was released in September 2020 after many setbacks due to COVID-19 and her latest “KEYS” dropped in December 2021.
“I bought the tickets around three months ago and I want more songs from the ‘KEYS’ album,” said 34-year-old fan Tony Johnson.
Keys sang every new song from her album with lyrical emotions and heavy sonics of the instrumentals which never gave a dull feeling to anyone in the crowd because she eventually transitioned to the big hits that we’ve known her for. She occasionally engaged the audience to keep them curious and even choose which records they liked better.
“I’ve been following her since the Paris tour in Europe and I’ve been to more than 10 shows,” said 24-year-old French nurse Kandia Wague. “I’ve been booking Airbnbs and she’s seen me several times in the crowd.”
It was a special moment for many fans who even left their hometowns just to see Keys perform. Her tour started in June with the European leg kicking off with bigger arenas. She dimmed the audience size for her North American leg that began mid-August.
Tampa was no exception to the smaller size and that evidently created missing tour props. Compared to her arena tours in Europe, her stage was smaller in Tampa which didn’t give her much room to walk, especially around her grey piano. She still embraced the venue’s limitations as much as she could with her 4-piece band in the back.
Keys had a busy weekend in Florida where she played two days consecutively in Hollywood and Orlando before her Tampa show. Most likely tired, it caused her to skip several songs on the setlist including “Time Machine”, “So Done”, “Like You’ll Never See Me Again” and more. She didn’t give an encore at the end even after the crowd was yelling for her.
Despite the venue’s limited scale for an artist as renowned as Keys, she still showcased why she’s one of the world’s greatest virtuosos in the music industry and Tampa proudly welcomed her back.