This summer marked 22 years since the release of Alicia Keys’ debut album Songs In A Minor and the official start of what became a massive music career. Since then, numerous Grammy Awards and multiple No. 1 songs, both as a lead and featured artist, are just some of what stands out on Keys’ resume. While Keys is a more low-key superstar than she was in the 2000s, her legend hasn’t diminished and remained captivating during her Keys To The Summer Tour stop in Boston’s TD Garden.
Unsurprisingly, the arena was packed with fans who grew up on Keys’ music. The crowd was mostly millennials who watched the young singer blossom into what she is today rather than a younger generation who may not be fully aware of her previous status. With that in mind, Keys’ setlist for the night reflected the audience at hand. A show that lasted nearly two hours contained just a few songs from Keys’ recent albums ALICIA and KEYS released in 2020 and 2021, respectively. The rest of the setlist bounced around beloved albums like Songs In A Minor, The Diary Of Alicia Keys, As I Am, and The Element Of Freedom.
Keys kicked off the night with “Fallin’” which captured the attention of the arena through the introduction of Keys’ trademark voice and the equally notoriously dance of the piano keys that is easily recognized more than 20 years after its release. The nostalgia only increased as Keys navigated through other records that are undeniable standouts in her discography like “You Don’t Know My Name,” “Unthinkable,” and “My Boo” as well as other strong outputs that include “New Day” and “Karma.” Keys also made room for her newer records throughout the night. “Love Looks Better” and “Underdog” fit well into the setlist from a sonic perspective, as did “Come For Me” and “City Of Gods (Part II), proving that though the music industry has changed over the years, Keys has stayed true to her vast pocket over the last two decades.
The last half of the night was more focused on Keys’ biggest records and songs that became cult classics over the years. A soaring performance of “A Woman’s Worth” was followed by a captivating rendition of “Superwoman.” A tender moment was shared through “Butterflyz” and “That’s How Strong My Love Is” and again with “Diary” and “Like You’ll Never See Me Again.” The energy returned with lively performances of “I Need You” and “The Gospel.” Through it all, Keys seemed to have the time of her life, utilizing the entire stage, which stretched from end to end of the arena. It allowed her the opportunity to interact with the crowd in all areas of the room, and in return, she received the excitement and energy that they had within throughout the night.
Keys’ show at TD Garden concluded with a collection of her biggest hits, all of which the crowd in attendance was more than happy to join. “Girl On Fire” was met with roars from the audience as TD Garden quite literally heated up to sing the record in one accord. Keys then jumped into her classic hook on Jay-Z’s “Empire State Of Mind” before checking into the 2016 record “In Common,” which is a personal favorite of mine from her catalog. At long last, to close the night, Keys ended with an empowering performance of “No One” before delivering a grand finale encore with “If I Ain’t Got You.”
Keys’ night at TD Garden was driven by love for her fans and hits that unified everyone in the building. For two hours, the arena came together to indulge in love songs and uplifting records. The experience was made better by the 360-degree stage design that allowed Alicia Keys to interact with all corners of the arena. It was also proof of how this can and should become the standard for artists that perform in arenas as opposed to the traditional setup that leaves some in the space at a disadvantage. Keys’ Keys To The Summer Tour leaned on love and unity for a nostalgic night that certainly left fans to reflect and appreciate all that she’s done over her two-decade career.