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Concert Reviews:
Jill Scott and friends bring block party flavor to DTE

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Sunday, July 31, 2011

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Jill Scott may be calling her current road trip the Summer Block Party Tour, but, with the exception of some lingo, it was hardly what you'd call "street" on Saturday night (July 30) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

Instead the R&B songstress put on flowing, sophisticated show more fit for a club than a sidewalk, showcasing Scott's unique combination of passion and poetry -- beatnik soul, if you will -- amidst smooth, frequently jazz-tinged arrangements and accented by a break dancer and three nattily attired, subtly choreographed backup singers. Dressed in a shimmering pink mini-dress, Scott sang about "grown women making decisions and choices," but so convincingly that even the men in the DTE audience felt empowered by the message.

Scott not surprisingly, offered up a generous sampling of her latest album, the chart-topping "The Light of the Sun" -- starting off, in fact, with the single "Shame" and also rolling out "Le BOOM Vent Suite," "Womanifesto" and "Rolling Hills." Block Party participant Anthony Hamilton joined her onstage to recreate the duet on their hit "So In Love," and Scott played "All Cried Out Redux" even though that song's special guest -- Doug E. Fresh, who was slated to host Saturday's tour stop -- was a no-show.

Scott and her band carefully picked through the rest of her four-album catalog, too, turning in solid performances of "Gimme," "Hate On Me," "Slowly Surely," an intense, building rendition of ""A Long Walk" and extended vamps on "It's Love" and "Crown Royal." Scott herself was personable but not particularly talkative, but fortunately her songs had so much to say that any commentary would have seemed superfluous.

The rest of the evening, meanwhile, held truer to the block party format. DJ Jazzy Jeff, assisted by Detroit-born emcee Skillz (filling in for Fresh), spun before the show and between the live sets -- and maybe even coaxed a little more energy out of the crowd than opening act Mint Condition did during its exuberant but unremarkable half-hour.

Hamilton, meanwhile, brought a stronger and more varied show. Though he gave a shout-out to the absent Fresh, the North Carolina-born singer and his group -- performing on a stage set designed to look like an urban building stoop, complete with a door, steps and streetlights -- muscled through favorites such as "Cool," "Change Your World" and "Charlene," as well as a doo-wop styled "Can't Let Go" and a long, extended, gospel-flavored vamp through "Prayin' For You/Superman" during which Hamilton came off the stage and walked up one of the aisles nearly to the top of the pavilion.

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