Like the sparkles on the lapel of his jacket, Maxwell scattered star dust all over Davies Symphony Hall on Friday, August 4, taking a break from his extensive Night Tour for an orchestral engagement with the SF Symphony. After opening with “Bad Habits,” the symphony aglow with sexy, red lighting, Maxwell—commenting that this was “bougie as fuck”—set about creating an intimate, almost collaborative experience with the full music hall. The audience felt included with Maxwell’s many thank yous and shout outs to the Bay Area, luxuriating in the sound of his voice paired with superlative musicians in a beautiful venue.
With their tech devices shut away in Yondr pouches, the audience put their focus on the show and each other, leading to an amazing atmosphere of engagement. Maxwell seemed in awe of the audience’s adoration. His soulful voice, and R&B songs were enriched by wind, string, brass, percussion, conducted by Steven Reineke. In addition to the symphony orchestra, Maxwell was joined by his longtime band, including supporting vocalist LaTina Webb. Each person’s specialty added to the collective musical experience.
Later in the concert, Maxwell cheerfully noted that the audience was full of all types of people from all walks of life “celebrating” together. Such is the power of music: A gifted and charismatic artist and his band + a renowned symphony and conductor + some call and response + a few sing-along sessions + a stand and dance moment + a lot of gratitude = happy folks scattering into the night full of good cheer. —Patty Riek