Tuesday night, Alicia Keys set the Ed Sullivan Theater stage “on fire” with a breath-taking and soul-baring performance that brought the 2012 season of Live on Letterman to a triumphant conclusion.
Expectations were high before Keys even stepped on stage and sat behind her candelabra adorned piano, but it didn’t take long for her to exceed even the highest of hopes.
She opened the show with the appropriately titled, “New Day,” and the audience was pulled into the powerful performance. She told the crowd she was honored to spend the holidays with them, but it was “a new day,” and she invited them all to sing and dance however they liked.
As “New Day” drew to a close, Keys declared, “I want to have some fun with you guys tonight, and it’s just limitedless.” With that, Keys launched into a reggae-tinged mashup of her new track “Limitedless” and “You Don’t Know My Name” from The Diary of Alicia Keys.
Keys brought out her signature vocal hooks on “Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart,” before giving the crowd a taste of more new material off Girl on Fire. The legend in the making even became self-aware and stopped to ponder the history of the Ed Sullivan Theater, telling the crowd she was honored to play there, among the big names like, “Tina Turner, The Supremes, Diana Ross, Ella Fitzgerald,” she said. “The history, the her-story, the we-story is all up in here, not to mention the Beatles and Elvis and stuff,” she joked.
However, there was one question on the New York crowd’s mind: “Would she play it? ‘Empire State of Mind?’” Yes, yes she would. The modern day anthem grew even stronger as the hometown girl closed out 2012 in one of the city’s most historic venues.
The excitement and power grew, as Keys belted out “No One” and she cemented “Brand New Me” and “Girl on Fire” as new Alicia Keys classics. It was a show for the ages, and the only way to close out such an outstanding year of Live on Letterman performances.
Watch the entire performance here.
–Peter Grumbine, CBS Local
(All photos courtesy of David Giesbrecht)