The anticipation was electric at MGM National Harbor on Sunday, June 25th. Jill Scott would be performing her second show in as many nights in the new entertainment complex just outside of Washington, DC. Somehow, I managed to get a ticket (courtesy of the Teacher) to witness the event. It was my first time seeing an event at the new venue, and I was not disappointed; even the balcony seats that we had allowed us a great view of the show.
A brief mention should be made for Scott’s opening act, Staceyann Chin. Chin opened the show with enlightening (some would say strident) spoken word/poetry that challenged those who managed to be in their seats for her brief twenty minute set. There was much to chew on about her takes on LGBT issues (Chin is a lesbian), racism, politics, and domestic violence, to name a few. The crowd (and I didn’t see many empty seats; mainly because they were there for Scott) was receptive to Chin’s messages. It was the first show I’ve ever attended where the opening act didn’t play any music, but it seemed fitting when you remember that Scott’s roots lie in spoken word and poetry.
After a short intermission, Scott took the stage to thunderous applause. Scott’s last album Woman, was released back in 2015, but you’d never know that she didn’t have new music to perform. In this case, she didn’t need any new music: performances of many of her songs were excuses for the audience to sing along. Particularly her version of “The Way,” one of the stellar songs from her debut album Who Is Jill Scott? – Words And Sounds, Vol. 1, Scott just pushed the microphone toward the audience for a healthy portion of the first verse.
It also couldn’t be said that Scott did not know her audience either: her performance of “It’s Love,” also from her debut album, transitioned to a rendition of E.U.’s (Experience Unlimited’s) classic go-go hit from the late 1980’s, “Da Butt.” The former song’s go-go backbone resonated with the crowd, with many audience members getting up to dance during the two songs. There was also a shout-out to Prince with a few choruses from the artist’s song “Sexy M.F.”
Her in-between song chatter resonated with many, and Scott was not above using some profanity to get her point across. If you know her work, many of her songs deal with relationships with the opposite sex from a woman’s point of view, and she definitely kept it real with the ladies in the audience. I wasn’t offended by her talk at all; I enjoyed her “real talk” about courting, getting, keeping and maintaining a relationship—particularly as I am now in one myself. Scott also wasn’t above mentioning politics, or continuing the themes that Chin had mentioned in her opening set. Her spirited rendition of “My Petition” from her second album also stood out as a memorable moment in the show.
I truly enjoyed Scott’s performance; and it’s truly a shame that it has taken me almost two weeks to write about it. The venue was outstanding and I would be very happy to see more shows there. It’s not hard to get to, and Uber is a lifesaver getting to and from the complex (we spent a night in Alexandria, Virginia after the show, which is on the opposite side of the Potomac River). Most of all, I’ll look forward to seeing Scott again, hopefully at the same venue.