Christina Aguilera’s “Liberation Tour” At Radio City Music Hall, Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018, Reviewed
Christina Aguilara is Staten Island’s answer to Britney Spears -just about literally. Both are Mickey Mouse Club alumni, both are EDM belters, Christina with a Latin sopark (her dad is Ecuadorian) and then Britney went further and fell harder, while Christina embraced her multi-skill career with a long running stint as a coach on “The Voice”. As well as getting involved enough in Female empowerment to the point where Bill and Hilary showed up Wednesday night at Radio City Music Hall and raising two children. Ten years since Christina’s last tour, pushing a good album that didn’t do much business, Accelerate, and only four nights into the tour, Christina gave a fine performance with eight costume changes, Lil Kim bringing the house down with “Lady Marmalade” and many set pieces, all of which would seldom down well in Vegas when Xtina decides to do a long term residency.
But first Big Boi opened the show, with an old school DJ (literally: two turn tables and a microphone) and a wingman, the Outkast managed to maneuver a sound that has knocked off bigger stars than Andre. The monster under the bed for rap shows is the bass, all you can hear is that distorted THUD shaking the rafters and eating the rappers whole, and that didn’t happen with Big Boi. While the set was big on Outkast songs, “Bombs Over Baghdad,” “Miss Jackson,” “So Fresh, So Clean” and more, his current song “All Night” was very good, and Killer Mike’s “Kryptonite” was a special treat.
Christina had all the problems you expect from big shows, where so much time is wasted switching sets and costumes and we get stuck admiring video interludes. Also, as a non-fan, I found the material wanting, but those are my only two complaints. Her voice is a magnificent boom, the dance routines were first rate, the ballads belted you into next week and the dance tracks were more dancey than tracky. A guitar solo here and there from the backing band, lots of movement, lots of Queen stuff. The hits still sparkle, especially “Genie In The Bottle” (I saw Xtina perform that opening for TLC back in the dark), a theatre shaking “Dirrty,” a nicely put together “What a Girl Wants / Come On Over Baby (All I Want is You)”.
At 37 years of age, Aguillara is finally passed all the question as to her Diva specialness, the show had all the hallmarks of a victory tour, the only problem was the new album’s failure to hit big time. certainly, her voice is a clarion call when she wants it to be and while a touch nondescript, she gets over every hurdle with ease and also a homegirl advantage that was clever enough and self-consciously self-aware enough to give Lil Kim the room to fly on “Lady Marmalade”. This is professional business of entertainment time, it is a job being well done with heart but mostly with craftsmanship. On song after song, Christina did what had to be done to sell songs that needed selling half the time, because Aguilara’s catalog isn’t all great though what is great as very good (if you see what I mean), The fact remains, she was so thoroughly enjoying herself and giving so much energy to everything, even an agnostic starts looking for his rosary beads.