Mary J. Blige

The Pearl at The Palms, Sept. 7

“No disrespect to the men, but this show is for all the ladies!” Mary J. Blige shouted from behind her red-rimmed shades that matched her red playsuit as the sea of women roared their approval. In a stop on her Liberation Tour—which also featured Melanie Fiona and the super-funky return of D’Angelo from a decadelong hiatus—the nine-time Grammy winner had every feminine voice (and even some masculine ones) singing along to her endless catalog of “I’m strong and don’t need your tired ass” tunes that have defined her career. Blige doesn’t sing so much as she performs exorcisms on her tormented soul—each vocal was so heart-wrenching and beautifully unique. From the upbeat post-relationship odes “Just Fine” and “Mr. Wrong” to the poignant “Not Gon’ Cry,” complete with emotional pantomime and a form-fitting black dress (likely for the no-good dude’s funeral), the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul proved why she has reigned supreme for two decades. ★★★★☆

Suggested Next Read

Sparkle

Short Reviews

Sparkle

By Tribune Media Services

(PG-13) ★★★☆☆ Already known as Whitney Houston’s swan song, this remake of the original actually works. Sparkle (Jordin Sparks) is one-third of a singing sister act who writes her own material and has to hide it from her God-fearing mother (Houston). The mother, Emma, is a heartbroken vocalist, who chased her dreams at a young age but ran into bad luck and worse men. With deft direction and pleasantly restrained dramatics, as well as the performances, the film does its source material proud.

DTLV

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