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Down With Love

Jill Scott, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, March 24

Jefferson Jackson Steele
SPARKLE: Jill Scott Shines at the Meyerhoff

By Christina Royster-Hemby | Posted 3/30/2005

Jill Scott greeted a nearly packed Meyerhoff Symphony Hall wearing a gold jacket, jeans, and gold wedge heels, and then gave the audience what it wanted, belting out a spirit-evoking rendition of her hit single “Golden.” Her world-class band, Fatback Taffy, backed her perfect pitch with hypnotic house beats, ’70s funk, and amazing ancestral rhythms. Meanwhile, a delicious flourish of perfect scats and belts up and down her vocal register provided the exclamation point. Scott is, in fact, living the solid-gold life about which she sings.

With that song out of the way, Scott settled into her almost two-hour performance, to show why she’s living her life like it’s golden, transforming the Meyerhoff into a living room, coaxing audience and band to sit down on the couch and sip some tea while she shared her lessons in love. She had everybody walking down a tree-lined street to a breezy ’70s beat in “Long Walk,” then got caught up in betrayal’s undulating emotions in “Exclusively” and “Gettin’ in the Way.”

Scott delivered new hope in “Love Rain Down” when she broke into those all-important lyrics, “You broke me but I’m healing,” weeping a range of hurt and therapy. In every lamenting note she called on her ancestors and every body of nature for help, all the while miming reaching into her chest, healing her heart, sewing it up, and having it beat again. “Hurt me in my mind, hurt me in my feet,” she ad-libbed impishly, “Why you do me like that?,” before tearfully adding, “Lord, don’t let me give up on love.”

Jilly from Philly fans know that she’s preachy, and she coyly fessed up herself. “I want y’all to know who you’re messing with,” she offered in an interlude, talking about how to attract long-lasting love—being friends first, holding hands, taking easy steps. Art imitated life as Scott talked about her friend and husband, Lyzel Williams, working into an inspiring interpretation of “He Loves Me.” Scott moved seamlessly between her soulful alto and symphonic mezzo-soprano as she took her hot and steamy fans from foreplay to climax, leading to an operetta of la, la, las and ooh, ooh, oohs, before her eventual onstage orgasm, the crowd erupting in cheers to love realized.

Scott then moved between joy and pain while performing cuts from her 2004 sophomore album, Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds, Vol. 2. She balanced encouragement for getting through love’s frustrated moments (“Talk to Me”) with being faithful in spite of memories of good sex with an ex (“Cross My Mind”). The latter was her weakest vocal of the night, though a weak Scott is still damn good. She offered a quick a cappella taste of “Bedda at Home,” and apparently that love at home is so bedda that whatever he wants is her breathy “Whatever.” Here, and during “Can’t Explain,” when Scott and her background singers harmonized a melodious apology to the teary-eyed men in the audience who have been hurt before—and everywhere, really—put Scott on her way to Barry White land: original pimpdom.

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