Fans welcome Alicia Keys home to San Diego in the final show of the ‘ALICIA+KEYS’ world tour

After postponements and reschedules, local fans attend Alicia Keys’ long awaited ‘ALICIA + KEYS’ world tour

Alicia Keys on her 2022 tour.

Photo Courtesy: Kevin Winter

Alicia Keys on her 2022 tour.

by Sumaia Wegner and Huy Huynh

Alicia Keys “shined at full wattage” as she lit the venue at Viejas Arena this past Saturday, Nov. 5. The show was set to be performed at Cal Coast Credit Union on Sept. 9, however due to unexpected weather conditions, the show was rescheduled. 

The self-titled “ALICIA+KEYS” world tour was originally scheduled for June 2020 but the coronavirus pandemic put that to a halt. Many fans in attendance waited almost four years to see Keys, including Navy veteran Cynthia Joliet and Naomi King, an educator. 

“We had options to sell the tickets or get a refund,” Joliet said. “But it’s Alicia Keys!”

Both Joliet and King recounted their admiration for Keys through commonality. 

“She comes from Harlem like I do; she is a daughter of New York,” said King. “She went to the School of Performing Arts at 16. She is a prodigy.”

“And she’s people of color, representing diversity,” said Joliet. 

Joliet and King attended as VIP ticket holders. VIP ticket holders received an autographed book written by Keys called “More Myself” and a tote bag with the message “I shine at full wattage” printed on it.

The openers of the show were Keys’ own band members, Norelle on vocals and Kurt Chambers who accompanied her, adding his expert guitar playing. 

As the production of the show heighted, Keys strutted out in a black one-piece with chandelier-like stones detailed on the suit, as she gracefully sang her slow and seductive hit “Nat King Cole.”

Naturally, she proceeded to the piano on stage for the climax of the song, demonstrating her jaw dropping keys playing that gave her the iconic stage name. 

The diamond and crystal aesthetic became more and more prominent throughout the night, with close-up shots of broken and sparkling granite gradually gliding through the screen behind her, as well as the eventual diamond head-piece Keys wore during her unexpected DJ set. 

After a brief interlude of instrumentals from her band, Keys shockingly appeared to the opposite side of the Viejas Arena in a DJ booth and her patented pianos. 

In the most interactive portion of the night, Keys played two versions of her songs, the first one being much softer and more familiar for Keys’ listeners, while the second one turned the previous into a club banger with sharp snares and arena-shaking 808 beats. 

She proceeded to ask the crowd’s preference between, what she called, “original” versus “unlocked.” The applause undoubtedly favored Keys’ “unlocked” versions, which included her classic 2004 hit “My Boo” with Usher. 

It is widely speculated that the DJ performance was inspired by her husband Swizz Beats, a renowned DJ in the hip-hop realm.

The crowd was also treated to a new song from her first Christmas album, “Santa Baby,” which is out now on Apple Music

As Keys made her way through the crowd, back on to the front stage, fans who did not have front row tickets were being escorted back to their seats. One fan managed to pass by security and throw roses onto the stage. 

The admiration from Keys fans were prominent throughout the night. Families, couples, old fans and new, had joy glistening from their faces. 

“I love her songs and her messages in the songs,” said Ruby Ng, San Diego State University alum and founding mother of Lambda Sigma Gamma. “I saw her ten years ago at the Sports Arena and was not going to miss her if (she) was performing again in San Diego.”

Keys ended the show with her 2007 smash hit “No One,” and accompanied the song with uplifting messages such as “everyone has a superpower” and a call to action to vote for the Nov. 8 midterm election. 

With the lights dimmed down and Keys strutting off the stage the way she came in, the inevitable encore from the crowd welcomed her back as they refused to leave without her performing her ultimate crowd pleaser, “If I Ain’t Got You.” 

The song’s incredible popularity was illuminated through the fact that Keys only played piano for most of the song, while the crowd’s singing overtook Keys’ own vocals. 

Keys was overwhelmed with emotion from the love she received from the crowd. 

“Thank you for welcoming me home tonight,” she said.