Jill Scott at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, 8/4/11: Review

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Jill Scott | Mint Condition Verizon Wireless Amphitheater August 4, 2011

Last year, St. Louis ardently welcomed Jill Scott as she opened for Maxwell on their controversially short-lived US tour. Last night, she returned in spectacular fashion, this time to headline the Summer Block Party Tour in support of her fourth album The Light of the Sun.

The event was hosted by Doug E. Fresh, who admirably kept the crowd going during the breaks. Doug's banter was accompanied by a medley of old-school records, delivered by none other than the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff. The duo didn't offer any groundbreaking contributions to the show, but they did manage to establish that block party feel in between sets. The night's most memorable moment occurred when Doug put his own stamp on "Teach Me How to Dougie."

Neo-soul pioneers Mint Condition opened the show by performing a little more than a half-hour of their strongest material. Lead singer Stokley Williams' vocals were solid, and the band sounded great live, but the crowd (which was still pretty thin at this point) didn't seem to take much notice until the group's last song, "Pretty Brown Eyes."

Anthony Hamilton had better luck with the growing audience; his "everyman" charm and raspy, soul-soaked voice definitely landed with the St. Louis crowd. Hamilton endeared himself even further when he took his backup singers out to dance with a few full-figured ladies in the front row. Unsurprisingly, his biggest hits, such as "Comin' From Where I'm From" and "The Point of it All," got the biggest reactions. He ended his time with 2004's "Charlene."

Just before 9:30, the curtains opened to reveal a massive platform setup for Jill Scott's band. Accompanied by three backup singers and a b-boy, Scott took to center stage as she opened with the single "Shame" off the new album. Her fashion sense seemed almost tongue-in-cheek, as her sequined dress was offset by her neon-green sneakers. Her disarming voice and buoyant charisma immediately won the crowd over, and she playfully segued through her most popular songs and spoken word pieces from the past decade. "Hate on Me," "The Way" and "Golden" were among the favorites.

Early in the set, Doug E. Fresh was invited back onstage to show off his "Human Beat-Box." Scott recited his verse from "La Di Da Di," before the pair transitioned into "I'm All Cried Out [Redux]." Anthony Hamilton was brought out shortly afterwards for his duet with Scott, "So in Love." Other highlights included an extended arrangement on "A Long Walk" and the operatic climax added to "He Loves Me." A light sprinkle was gently falling when Scott closed out her 90 minute set with "So Blessed."

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