2. It never ceases to amaze or impress me when audiences whose first language may or may not be English know all the words. I'm still trying to figure out how all those folks in Buenos Aires a few years ago nailed the lyrics to Kylie Minogue's greatest hits while I fumbled through the choruses. The predominantly black African crowd at Maxwell's December 5 show at GrandWest Casino in Cape Town, many of whom, as Maxwell pointed out, were probably born around the time that he released his first album (1996), not only knew nearly all the words to every song he sang over the course of about 90 minutes, but on "Til the Cops Come Knockin'," his second South African single and his U.S. debut, they actually sang the verses for him. When he said, "This is the best show of my life!" I had a feeling he meant it.
4. Maxwell, more so than Usher before him on "My Boo," brings out the sexy in Alicia Keys, a beautiful, talented singer who has never exactly oozed sex appeal. As she touched herself on the big screen, in a specially pre-taped video in which she performed her parts of "Fire We Make," her duet with Maxwell from this year's Girl on Fire album, she set the stage ablaze. Even when Maxwell was doing the singing, and Keys was just hovering in the background, caressing her breasts, I couldn't take my eyes off her.
5. Do women really still throw their underwear onstage at hunky soul balladeers? Apparently so, if the black bra that Maxwell was fondling at one point last night was any indication. Did he really have to smell it and cover his face with it, though? Gross!
6. Did I blink and miss "Whenever, Wherever, Whatever"?
7. It's been four years since Maxwell's last album, 2009's BLACKsummers'night, which came eight years after his previous opus. But clearly South African R&B fans never forget. Last night on the taxi ride back into the city, two of the ladies I was with were talking about great recent concerts they've seen when one dropped an old-school name that I so wasn't expecting to hear: Joe. Joe. Yes, Joe, who, like Maxwell, turned 40 this year, released a new album (Doubleback: Evolution of R&B) in June, but he's 13 years removed from his commercial heyday. When my friend Odidi introduced me to one of the women before the show, she said I looked like Maxwell's brother. When we parted ways, she looked at me standing in the moonlight, and declared me the splitting image of Joe. So what if the three of us look nothing alike? I took her compliments -- They were compliments, right? -- and ran with them, home, smiling.