SZA Releases Cardi B at Madison Square Garden: Concert Review

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To say that SZA made a big splash with the hit-packed, nautical-themed “SOS” tour concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Saturday would be an understatement, conceptually tied to the message, but largely understated: He sang 32 songs on a wildly elaborate seashore. . -themed scene featuring a giant fake fishing boat, a rowboat hovering above the crowd, and a lighthouse, revealing two queen friends – rapper Cardi B and indie-rock titan Phoebe Bridgers, at least 10 minutes apart – and slamming the audience out of their seats and virtually all A set that sang throughout the show, delighting the audience, lasted about two hours.

The concert had a loose shipwreck story (“SOS”, got it?) – starting with him sitting on a diving board as if “SOS” was on the cover, to a dock, boat, boat, aquarium, and giant video screens on stage a beautiful ocean, a sky full of stars and Pixar-like underwater images. The show was so visually stunning that it ended with a giant cinematic “The End” on screen and – a classy, ​​lavish move that should be used in every major concert from now on – real closing credits from the band members to the dancers. and from choreographers to technicians and truck drivers.

After a thrilling opening set by Omar Apollo that got the crowd moving, the concert focused on the 23-track “SOS”, which peaked at #1 for 10 weeks on the Billboard 200 since its December release, but also featured songs from many artists. Her 2017 debut album features highlights like “Cntrl” and “All of the Lights” and “and “Kiss Me Closer” (collaborators of these songs Kendrick Lamar and Saweetie, Cardi B and Phoebe B.), no one complained: SZA and five The band member, four dancers and a staff of hundreds were needed to create such an audiovisual fantasy that glides quickly and smoothly across the set’s 32 songs.

Yet SZA was at the center of the action throughout the entire show, making four costume changes and very few breaks, moving in sync with the dancers while singing their complex, vocally compelling tunes with ease, punctuating them with enticing decorations and nuances of agitation. . , joy and sensuality. The production may have been IMAX, but her singing was candid and dramatic, as if she was having a personal talk in her kitchen.

The show opened with a giant video screen depicting the seashore scene on the album’s cover, and then stood up for “PSA” to reveal SZA sitting above the stage on the diving board; the screen then fell at the end of the song, showing a video of SZA diving off the board into the water and starting the show.

He reappeared in the dock setting for a strong run on “Seek & Destroy,” before going through moody mid-tempo moments like “Notify Me” (with “Arrogant”) and Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady” turning into “Blind.” ” ”

After SZA said, “This is the first time we’re playing this song on stage,” the brand sang “Ghost in the Machine” and the crowd exploded when Bridgers joined in on her verse – but moments later, Cardi exploded when she sang. , in a bright red dress and long, straight hair, for a long mix of GloRilla collaboration “Tomorrow 2” and “I Do,” for which SZA provided colorful commentary.

(Photo: Robert Okine/Getty Images)
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From the boat, SZA glided into a rock segment (complete with a nod from the guitarist) with the syn-drum snaps of “Smoking on My Ex Pack”/”Too Late” and “All the Stars.” F2F,” “Doves in the Wind,” and clustered words and “Drew Barrymore.”

The orange lifeboat was lowered from the beams onto the stage as video screens exploded with stormy seas to point to the shipwreck, and SZA rose dozens feet above the crowd singing the acoustic-based song “Nobody Gets Me” and the emotional anthem “Gone Girl.” as he made his way to the opposite end of the arena floor, where a 20-foot-high lighthouse suddenly appeared, with a moving spotlight above the crowd.

It’s back and has now been lowered onto the underwater themed stage for the last quarter of the concert (the giant boat had somehow completely disappeared). SZA ran fast and loosely between the up-tempo electro-pop music of “SOS”, the fierce reds of “Snooze” and “Kill Bill” with the hard strumming, and the divine sensuality of “I Hate You”, which was attended by hundreds of people. raise the middle fingers and sing “Fuuuuuuck you!” retain.

But instead of ending on a vengeful note, the concert ended the way it began, with SZA singing the closing song “Good Day” from the springboard and completing the song’s sunny theme by donning a bright yellow, furry dress.

As the credits literally rolled on the video screen and the house lights came on, SZA rushed to the stage to thank the almost hometown audience, adding a final, human touch to a wildly cinematic and technologically dazzling but ultimately very human concert. As a musical, visual and emotional experience, it will be difficult to top SZA’s “SOS” tour — good luck, Beyonce and Taylor.

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