Concert Review: Maxwell
R&B star Maxwell heated up the stage at the Borgata on Friday night, impressing an audience that included Aretha Franklin.

ATLANTIC CITY - Soul singer Maxwell used his smooth, sexy voice to seduce the sold-out Event Center crowd of more than 2,000 screaming women of all races, creeds and colors Friday night at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.

Maxwell, 36, made his Atlantic City casino debut with a headlining show after enjoying a 13-year recording career full of success.

The R&B singer's summer tour is in support of his fourth and newest studio CD, "BLACKsummers'night." It is currently No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart and debuted at No. 1. He thanked the crowd for buying his records at a time when people download music for free.

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When Maxwell sang songs from it, like "Bad Habits" and "Cold," the crowd greeted material that was only two weeks old - the CD was released on July 7 - like they were old favorites.

Maxwell didn't ignore his older material at the expense of the new songs.

The Brooklyn native started off his concert with the horn-laden "Get to Know Ya" from his third CD, "Now" from 2001.

With the words, "I'm ready to get down with y'all," Maxwell launched into the song "Sumthin' Sumthin'" from his 2 million-selling debut album, "Urban Hang Suite" from 1996. He really put on a show. He doesn't just stand there and sing. He walked on top of the speaker cabinets on both the sides of the stage, so he could point his microphone toward the crowd and they could sing along.

When Maxwell sings songs in his falsetto voice, such as his cover of Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" and one of his new singles, "Pretty Wings," the sound he makes is among the most distinctive and pleasurable in modern R&B music.

Maxwell also was not content to just give the audience Xerox copies of his singles.

The R&B vocalist's hit song, "Lifetime," also from his CD "Now," was extended with a near a cappella-closing with his one female backup singer and three male horn players, who also sang, accompanying him as he improvised a new ending with different words.

Even though the sound of Maxwell's voice drives women crazy, he comes off on stage as a very humble and grateful person. "The Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin was sitting about five rows from the front of the stage in the center of the orchestra. Maxwell acknowledged her presence more than once during the course of the concert.

"I came out here feeling like Superman, and now, I feel like Clark Kent," Maxwell said.

The hosting of Maxwell by Borgata was a great booking, as he didn't play Philadelphia or New York City on his summer tour. He headlined at Radio City Music Hall in New York City and the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden in the fall before his new CD was released.

While Maxwell was on stage, he also thanked his opening act, fellow R&B singer Chrisette Michele.

Michele, 26, just headlined a show on June 6 in the House of Blues Atlantic City inside the Showboat Casino-Hotel in support of her former No. 1 album, "Epiphany."

A Long Island, N.Y. native, Michele impressed the most at the end of her set.

Michele sang a song from her first CD, titled "If I Have My Way." During the course of her live rendition, she sang some of the tune in the style of fellow R&B singers John Legend, Erykah Badu and clearly one of her influences, Anita Baker.

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