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Blige flexes her musical muscle

Mary J. Blige
Comerica Theatre
Phoenix, AZ
August 30, 2017
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Review and photos by Frances Sealy

Mary J. Blige's "Strength of a Woman Tour" was bound to be very special as it comes on the heels of her very public and messy divorce. The latest album of the same name was recently released and it contained many songs that seemed to be inspired by her break-up. Blige's show fulfilled every expectation and even more. Blige reached deep down and she pulled every emotion she could muster and laid "it" out for everyone to see and feel.

After 13 years of marriage to her one time manager, Blige decided not to hide under a web of embarrassment and shame. Instead it was time to fight and on this tour, she is very open about the subject. The show started by carrying the fans on a trip that featured songs from the beginning of her 25-year career through to the present. The songs were placed strategically through the set to tell Blige's story. In between some of the songs Mary, candidly, spoke about her truth of how she felt during the process and how she feels now. The group therapy of Mary's confessions, conjured the same experiences with many women in the audience. As evidenced by all the "oh, yeahs" and "uh huhs" coming from the crowd, they, too, experienced everything that was being expressed. She was preaching to the choir.

The first part of the show ran through many of her early hits. By the mid point of the show Blige left the stage in the very capable hands of her background singers and her band. She made a quick wardrobe change to something cooler. She returned wearing leather shorts and thigh-high stiletto boots. She gave the most soulful, searing vocals of the night starting with "My Life." This was followed by "I'm Goin' Down" and "Set Me Free." This was clearly the turning point of the set. She seemed to be at an all time low with lyrics like, "There is a special place in hell for you. You're going to pay for what you did to me. The truth will set me free." Between the songs, Blige elaborated and said, "I get that it didn't work. What I don't get is the extortion of it all. The attitude that you owe me. For what? "

"U + Me" and "Thick of It" are the songs that led into healing for Blige. By the end of the set, she had learned her lesson and she professed that she will love again like she has never been hurt. The songs "Just Fine" and "Family Affair" at the end of the show leave the fans with a Blige's sense of optimism.

Blige looked and sounded like a million dollars. Physically, she could not have been better for a woman at any age. Vocally, Blige is as great of a powerhouse as she has ever been. She is the epitome of the strength of a woman.
Set List:
1. Love Yourself
2. The One
3. Enough Cryin'
4. I Can Love You
5. You Bring Me Joy
6. Reminisce (remix)
7. Real Love

8. You Remind Me (Remix) 9. Be Happy
10. Love No Limit (remix)
11. Don't Mind
12. Share My World
13. Everything
14. My Life
15. I'm Goin' Down (Rose Royce cover)
16. Set Me Free
17. Love Don't Live Here Anymore (Rose Royce cover)
18. U + Me (Love Lesson)
19. Thick Of It
20. Not Gon' Cry
21. No More Drama
22. Just Fine
23. Family Affair

Related articles:

Mary J. Blige - (Lilith) Festival review - Tinley Park, IL - July 2010
Mary J. Blige - (B96 Summer Bash '06) Concert review - Bridgeview, IL - June 2006
Mary J. Blige - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI - February 2002

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Mary J Blige
Mary J Blige Mary J Blige Mary J Blige
Mary J Blige

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