Mary J. Blige + D’Angelo at United Center | Concert preview
A greatest hits revue and comeback tour from two forces of R&B.
What happened to D’Angelo? A 2008 Spin feature asked that question, offering (in addition to an unflattering mug shot) a tragic portrait that at the time left us wondering whether there was any hope for the neo-soul crooner, that genre’s answer to Al Green and Prince rolled into one. Fast forward a few years and Questlove, perhaps in an effort to nudge him, began leaking news of a comeback—a tangible one, with actual concert dates and, eventually, a new album.
We’re still waiting for that LP, but a flurry of YouTube clips shot overseas earlier this year sent the media into a frenzy, with a surprise jam session at Bonnaroo sealing his return. The Virginia native has one notable new accessory, a guitar, via which he deploys heady funk-rock folded into psychedelic-soul workouts. Speaking of which, he managed to get that buff body back, not that fans should expect to see too much of it. The days of “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” are over, which is fine. We’d rather see his mind right than his midriff.
A headlining set from Mary J. Blige doesn’t carry quite the same suspense, but she brings a certain gravitas that comes with having laid her heart bare for two decades straight. What’s more, the “No More Drama” singer’s hits, while in the rearview mirror, haven’t lost any of their currency (witness Frank Ocean quoting “Real Love” on his own “Super Rich Kids”). Even if the R&B diva offers nothing but back catalog, that’s more than enough to sate the thousands happy to follow her and D’Angelo through their highs and lows.