all words: Robb Scott
all photos: Katherine Gaines
Finally, the Fillmore Silver Spring has opened, and they aren’t messing around with their opening week line-ups. To christen the stage soon to be made just as famous here in DC as it is in SF: the Hip-Hop/R&B diva Mary J Blige. With a new album slated for release later this year, the Bronx bred lady with the voice has much to celebrate as well.
I have to hand it to MJB; whether this was an intentional set decision, or something more or less spontaneous, she paid attention to the magnitude of the moment. For someone of her caliber, playing smaller venues like the Fillmore is a rare opportunity. There were no half-way, or on the fence fans… and she adjusted herself accordingly, playing through the majority of her My Life (1994) album. The best way to celebrate the journey is to look back from whence you came and pay homage—this performance was for her fans, plain and simple.
One could just feel the joy coming from the crowd; there were moments at length that we sang lead, and Mary took backseat riding on the choruses and ad libs. There was a lot of love being sent back and forth from floor to stage, and it was obvious how humbling this was for her.
She sang with just as much emotion as can be heard on her studio work, but she just goes so much harder vocally live. She has runs to rival the best of them, even experimenting at times with Scat techniques. Her energy was definitely given even more life from us as an audience rooting her on each bit of the way.
What I found troubling was the length of her set—though the time warp back to ’94 was awesome, to have only parlayed for about an hour and a half, there leaves much to be desired. The pleasure of an encore was only dampened by the fact that it would only be her latest single… no more; have a good night.
In terms of a venue, the Fillmore certainly feels the most mature of our area’s stages and clubs—the lighting is incredible, as is their audio system. The newness of the space probably creates somewhat of a bias, but nevertheless, Mary J fit perfectly as its inaugural act. Look out for her new album, My Life II… The Journey Continues (Act I), when it drops this November.
- Mary Jane (All Night Long)
- I’m the Only Woman
- My Life
- You Gotta Believe
- I Never Wanna Live Without You
- I’m Goin’ Down
- Don’t Go
- I Love You
- No One Else
- Be With You
- Mary’s Joint
- Be Happy