Concert Review: Jill Scott at the Sands Bethlehem
A week ago, my husband’s phone rang with some exciting news. It was an employee from Young Ones, a new and used record store in Kutztown, PA. He had won a pair of tickets from them to see Jill Scott at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center. My husband was gracious enough to give me the tickets, suggesting I invite one of my oldest girlfriends to join me. So, on Thursday, July 20, I picked up my girl and we headed out to the show.
The Sands Bethlehem Event Center is a wonderful venue, with nary a bad seat in the house, as it only holds about 2,200 people. We were sat left center orchestra in the 24th row. We took out seats around 7:45pm for the 8:00pm show. I had heard the opening act was a spoken word performance, but I had no idea what to expect. When Staceyann Chin took the stage, she shook the walls with her powerful presence. She joked about being one of only two and a half part black, part Chinese, Jamaican lesbians in the world. She shared her strong views and sharp wit with a loud and fast pace. She riled the audience with her talk of the revolution and the power of the people. She brought the entire audience together in uproarious applause.
Jill Scott’s first album in 2000 “Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1” went double platinum and her 2004 album “Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2” and 2007’s “The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3” both sold gold. She’s got two gold live albums: 2001’s “Experience: Jill Scott 826”and 2008’s “Live In Paris.” and her two most recent albums, 2011’s “The Light of the Sun” and 2015’s “Woman,” both went to number one.
Scott took the stage at 8:40pm and I was immediately taken with her smile and her voice. I’ve seen hundreds of live concerts in my life and I’ve only seen one other performer enjoy himself more on stage and that is Doug Pinnick of King’s X. Jill took the stage and began to sing in her smooth, sultry voice. Her band backed her with a full and robust sound with a saxophone, trumpet, keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, percussion, and three backup singers, all of whom have played with her for years.
I was transported by her song. I could close my eyes and feel like I was in another world. Scott sang several numbers before speaking to the audience. Her first few songs were slow and rhythmic and velvety smooth. She smiled broadly throughout and interacted gleefully with her band. She then began to interject some commentary to introduce several numbers, assertively stating when you get laid after the show to remember to say “Thank you, Jill”.
Sexuality and being self assured were the center points of the entire concert. At one point, Scott even proceeded to mimic fellatio on the microphone, much to the glee of the audience. There were songs about love and songs about sex and questioning the sanity of your partner. Another theme of the night that Scott repeated often was that this was “Real Live Music”. There were no recordings being played. No background tracks. She commented on how she would only sing live and there would be no auto-tune.
At the end of the night, Scott came back for an encore, telling us “You ain’t going anywhere. You know me so well.”, singing two more songs for the audience. To be honest, I, along with everyone else there, I’m sure, could have gone for more.
EmKay is a graduate of Kutztown University with a BFA in theatre, music, and writing. She’s worked in the theatrical and musical world from NYC to New Orleans. When she’s not at work, she enjoys seeing live theater and concerts, as well as baking and crafting and collecting vinyl records.