Mary J. Blige, D'Angelo | United Center | Blues, Gospel, and R&B | Chicago Reader

Mary J. Blige, D'Angelo Member Picks Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Recommended

When: Thu., Sept. 13, 7 p.m. 2012

A few years ago I saw Mary J. Blige at the House of Blues, performing for an audience that (aside from me and former Reader contributor Jessica Hopper) seemed to consist entirely of middle-aged black women, gay men, and executives from the corporations that had sponsored the event. Blige sassed and emoted (depending on the song) through a greatest-hits set that had everyone but the suits in a state of almost religious euphoria. And the whole time she had a rip in one of her stockings, which seemed so perfectly Mary—she may be a diva, but she's unafraid of her flaws and far from fragile. When confronted with hardship she embraces it, captures it in song in high-resolution detail, and then comes through it a stronger person. There have been rough patches in my life where her lyrics have been one of the only things keeping me holding on—and judging from the looks on the faces around me at the House of Blues, I'm far from alone in that respect.

D'Angelo's 2000 album Voodoo—the result of a lengthy and famously intense collaboration with Roots drummer Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson—was as close to perfection as a pop record can get. Maybe a little too close, in fact. Its massive critical and commercial success put a huge strain on D'Angelo's already fragile emotional state, and following a tour to promote the album he went into seclusion. Subsequent reports of substance abuse and a couple of police busts—one of them for soliciting a female undercover cop for oral sex—did little to cheer up anyone waiting for a follow-up to Voodoo. But earlier this year D'angelo suddenly started making live appearances, and new songs turned up on his set lists; word is that he's finally started working in earnest on a new album. Fingers crossed that the palpable anticipation radiating from his fan base doesn't spin him out again. —Miles Raymer Mary J. Blige headlines; D'Angelo and Melanie Fiona open.

Price: $39.75-$150.75

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