Review: Mary J Blige @ Montreux Jazz Festival

By Claire Garber

mary j blige montreux jazz festivalAfter watching Mary J Blige at the Montreux Jazz Festival my Facebook status read as follows:

“f**k kissing hot men, Mary J Blige just gave me 2 hours of constant goosebumps #myarmslooklikekiwiskin”

There are many artists (you know who you are Elton) who have spent decades on stage with legions of loyal fans following them around the globe, filling their coffers with gold, while they sing lacklustre versions of their old hits with barely feigning interest. And then… then there is Mary J Blige.

MJB has been performing as a solo artist for over 22 years. She had been singing songs from the likes of No More Drama for 12 years. She could have shown up and done an Elton on us and we still would have left the auditorium pretty chuffed. But that is not how MJB rolls.

MJB has always written unapologetically from the heart. Her life is her source of musical inspiration. That’s what makes her music so transcending and powerful, Rolling Stone and Time Magazine citing her album ‘My Life’, one of the greatest ever recorded. Her lyrics connect audiences and create electrifying performances. And so it was, at Montreux, the front of the auditorium eight-deep in female fans, every face reciting every, single, and lyric. Together we were like a hot bed of oestrogen, alcohol and shared pain. Which is when my two-hours of goosebumps began. Because, even now, MJB sings from the depths of her soul, as if drowning in fresh emotional pain. It would be easy to believe that she had just written ‘No More Dramas’, or that ‘Family Affairs’ was her current life situation.

There were no surprises in the night’s set list. There were no mix-ups, new tracks or jazzy Montreux-inspired remixes. But that really wasn’t the point of the gig. Everyone had turned up to see Mary J Blige being Mary J Blige at the Montreux Jazz Festival and Mary J Blige 120% showed up.

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