"It feels like people don't want you to change or to grow up. They shouldn't be mad," revealed Alicia Keys in what felt like an intimate moment with the 14-time Grammy Award-winning artist.
That's the power of a 32-year-old New York-born star, standing on stage in an arena as large as London's 02 but still making everyone feel as though she's connecting.
Keys was talking about her deeply personal song Brand New Me from her latest US number one album, Girl on Fire, written shortly after her marriage to record producer and rapper Swizz Beatz as well as the birth of her first child, Egypt.
While it's true Keys has changed since her first studio album Songs in A Minor was released in 2001 (those hair braids are long gone, and a neat bob takes their place), her performance skills have only grown and developed.
Any worries I had of the No One singer sitting at a piano for two hours playing ballads in an arena that was made for high-intensity shows, were quickly forgotten, as her powerful and unmistakable voice filled the venue.
The last US superstar I saw at the 02 was Beyonce, on her hugely-hyped 'Mrs Carter Show'. Beyonce's world tour was given so much attention that when it came down to watching her perform her huge hits surrounded by theatrics and dancers, they fell surprisingly flat on my once adoring fan-girl ears.
Unlike Bey, Alicia didn't go in for over six tedious wardrobe changes. She kept on the same pair of black trousers and a blue sequinned top and kept the focus on what she excels at - beautiful music. This allowed for a real connection with her fans, who happened to be a much older demographic than Beyonce's and who were all on their feet, dancing along by the time she reached power ballad Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart from 2009 album The Element Of Freedom.
When it came to Keys' signature song Fallin', which bagged her three Grammy Awards in 2002, the accomplished pianist managed to make her 2001 debut single sound as fresh as the day it was first played. Every note was filled with emotion and the whole arena collaborated with her for the hit.
Keys reflected on life and love throughout the show, mixing heartfelt emotional ballads with new empowering records from her latest album, including New Day and Girl On Fire.
Dedicating her song Not Even the King to her two-year-old son, who was dancing and running around at the side of the stage, she revealed: "This song reminds me of the people in my life that are so great to me. It reminds me of my son. He always asks me to sing."
Keys also dedicated her hit If I Ain't Got You to her 34-year-old husband, calling him "the love of my life".
It was unsurprising that after tinkling the ivories for hits You Don't Know My Name (she played the girl from the coffee house on stage with a fake telephone) A Woman's Worth and No One, an encore was demanded. And what an encore it was... belting out Girl On Fire and Empire State of Mind, Keys reminded us why she's one of pop's classiest acts and why she doesn't need more than her piano.
Alicia Keys is inviting fans to submit pictures of their city using BlackBerry's interactive platform. Click her for more information.
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