Concert Review: Jill Scott Block Party Tour

Jill Scott Block Party Tour
Jill Scott, Anthony Hamilton & Mint Condition
August 28th - Dallas
by Melody Charles

It’s hard to build kinship among thousands of strangers, especially in the midst of a sweat-inducing heat wave, but that’s exactly what happened when actress, poet and Soul Sister Number One, Jill Scott, brought her hip-hop-fueled empowerment express to a near-capacity crowd (10,000+) at Fair Park’s Gexa Energy Pavilion in Dallas on Saturday night.

Jill Scott Block Party Tour
Jill Scott, Anthony Hamilton & Mint Condition
August 28th - Dallas
by Melody Charles

It’s hard to build kinship among thousands of strangers, especially in the midst of a sweat-inducing heat wave, but that’s exactly what happened when actress, poet and Soul Sister Number One, Jill Scott, brought her hip-hop-fueled empowerment express to a near-capacity crowd (10,000+) at Fair Park’s Gexa Energy Pavilion in Dallas on Saturday night.

From the moment she appeared in her pink shrug, layered top and sequined leggings, Ms. Scott effused the warmth of a home girl and the regality of a queen, kicking off with “Shame” from the just-released  Light of the Sun. Her fans, who knew the words to her newer material (“Rolling Hills,” “Quick”) just as well as their all-time favorites (“The Way,” “A Long Walk”), shouted in delight as she traded hip-hop refrains with her background vocalists (“You on-point Jill? All the time Phife!”) and dropped verses from “La Di Da Di” with MC Doug E. Fresh accompanying her with the beat box. Everyone expected Anthony Hamilton to join her in delivering their hit duet, “So In Love,” but no one imagined that Houston’s own Paul Wall would appear to spit his bridge from their salacious collabo, “So Gone (What My Mind Says).” As expected, she saved the best for last, using multiple false exits to frame a classic joint and a new favorite, “He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat)” and “So Blessed,” earning shouts of “SING THAT!” and “YES!” when she hit awe-inspiring, operatic high notes in the former and segued into the latter with impeccable timing: “I know you wanna go home, it’s hot and it’s late, I know,” she cooed,  “but this is the last take for the night…..”

The four hour show would’ve been unbearable if it weren’t for the skills of renowned DJ Jazzy Jeff on the ones and twos and a spirited Doug E. Fresh, who kept enthusiasm high with his true-school, “party over here!” style. Even as they fanned themselves, guzzled drinks and mopped away sweat, fans grooved to a continuous mix of soul and hip-hop that functioned as a time machine to simpler times, including favorites from Nu Shooz, Soul II Soul, Dennis Edwards, E.U. and of course, the departed MJ.

Anthony Hamilton managed to mix it up quite a bit as well, grafting blues and doo-wop harmony into hits like “Cool,” “Comin’ From Where I’m From” and “Can’t Let Go.” “Thank you for believing in my music for so long,” he said sincerely before delving into “Charlene”  and “The Point of It All,” songs that he cleverly intertwined with The Five Heartbeats’ “The Heart Is a House For Love” and Prince’s “Adore,” respectively, before bringing it all home with tambourines and a testimonial version of “Praying For You,” which he sung and shouted from the stage and in the aisles amongst thrilled fans.

To the disappointment of many, anyone daring to make a snack dash or a restroom run early in the evening probably missed Mint Condition’s opening set. Despite also having a months-old CD release, a brand new video in rotation and a twenty-year time span from which to perform hits, the five-man band was forced to cram songs into a set merely 35 minutes long (!!!). Still, the nattily-dressed quintet gave it their all in truncated versions of “U Send Me Swingin’,” “Walk On,” “What Kind Of Man Would I Be?” and “Why Do We Try.” “Nothing More To Say” and their expected closer, “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)” got fans up to cheer and sing along with Stokley Wiliams’ stunning vocal gymnastics while they absorbed the brilliant synergy of modern R&B’s last self-contained band.

 

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