It seemed especially fitting that R&B singer Maxwell would open his comeback concert Wednesday night at the Fox Theatre with his song "Get to Know Ya."
Maxwell needed to get to know his fans again. The creamy-voiced singer, whose status as a pioneer in the '90s neo-soul movement is cemented, disappeared from the music scene after his 2001 CD "Now."
The New York singer laid low, and only made an official return to public consciousness at the BET Awards a few months ago, paying tribute to Al Green.
Turns out that was just a warm-up for his full-fledged tour, which is drumming up a ton of excitement despite the fact there's still no news on the release of his long-gestating "Black Summers' Night" trilogy.
For both Maxwell and his St. Louis fans, it was as if he never left. The singer, sporting a low haircut drastically different from his trademark bouncy Afro, seemed happier and more animated than ever during the 90-minute show.
With no CD near release, Maxwell was mostly forced, if forced is even the right word, to welcome back necessary oldies such as —"'Til the Cops Come Knocking," "Fortunate," "Lifetime," and Green's "Simply Beautiful."
Newly arranged takes on "Sumthin' Sumthin,'" and "Everwanting: To Want You to Want" kept the still-fresh material even more crisp.
"This Woman's Work," his Kate Bush cover, brought out his cotton-soft falsetto at its fluffiest. The song quickly sent female fans into a swoon.
"Pretty Wings," a new song that's been on his MySpace page for months, was a preview of his new material, along with "Bad Habits." Both songs may be better appreciated once they're finally, fully released.
Maxwell's well-dressed 10-piece band included St. Louis trumpet player Keyon Harrold, a young jazz prodigy who moved to New York City several years ago. Maxwell gave him a solo spotlight during "W/As My Girl."
New act Jazmine Sullivan, who has the hottest R&B album out now with "Fearless," opened with "Bust Your Windows" from the CD. The funky, eclectic singer with the retro flavor also performed "Lions, Tigers & Bears," "After the Hurricane," and hit single "Need U Bad."