During the Atlantic City stop of her Royalty Tour, Mary J. Blige was at her very best: sensual, sick and a little silly.
In 2017, Mary J. Blige embarked on the Strength of A Woman Tour. That tour featured an emotionally broken and battered Blige, who was in the middle of a very public, very nasty divorce from her husband of 12 years, Kendu Issacs. During those shows, Blige was raw and real about the state of her heart — warning women to be weary of love.
The Mary J. Blige we witnessed in 2017 was hurting.
Fast forward to 2019 and Mary is now headlining The Royalty Tour, alongside Nas. We are now witnessing a whole different Mary — one with no dark cloud over her head. And during her performance this Saturday, July 20th, at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City she proved that after every storm comes the sunshine.
For this tour stop, Blige’s tour mate, Nas, was absent. But his presence was still felt; he appeared in the opening video introducing Mary: “She is the queen. When you’re dealing with hip-hop and dealing with R&B Mary is the person who took it on her back and made it happen. Mixed it all up and gave it to us in a way we never saw before.”
Blige’s opening number was “I Can Love You.” She descended onto the stage with a backdrop complete with eye-popping pyrotechnics and flaming fire, a nostalgic video display of Blige’s face framed out in a fiery heart. Blige was decked out in a bedazzled jersey and shorts ensemble, complete with black sunglasses and a baseball cap. (The singer had three wardrobe changes during her show.)
Blige looked good, and she was feeling great. “Ladies, make some noise if you’re feeling yourself,” she yelled. The energy of the show remained high as Blige breezed through her set, giving fans classics like “Love No Limit,” “Real Love,” “Love is All We Need,” “Mary Jane (All Night Long),”I’m the Only Woman,” “Be Happy,” “You Gotta Believe,” “Don’t Go,” and “I’m Going Down” — all of which showcased Blige at her best, sensual, sick and a little silly with her offbeat freestyle dances moves.
During her emotionally charged performance of “My Life,” Blige once again directed her attention to the women in the crowd: “Ladies…It gets so lonely sometimes, but that’s my choice. I’d rather be by myself than to be alone in someone else’s hell. I’d rather go through the fire than to live in denial. I want to keep me peace. I had to get my freedom. You know what I”m talking about. I’m talking about getting it together. I’m talking about dealing with the pressure. I’m talking about letting it burn. Let it burn. My life is just like your life.”
The message was clear: in order to get over the pain you have to face and work through the pain. And it was clear that in the past year and change, Blige has put in some serious work.
At one point she directed her attention to the fellas in the audience: “It takes a real strong, confident man to handle a real, strong, confident woman. If the woman shows you you are her king, please help her be the beautiful queen that she was when you first met her after you get her. Please keep letting her be that. And whatever you do fellas, and ladies we already got to know this, you’ve got to make her feel that she’s enough.”
Blige winded down her show by thanking all of her fans who have been with her since 1991. “When I was doing good, bad, sad, broke, rich, humiliated. Whatever the heck I was, you never let me alone,” she said.
Scroll down to see pictures from the show.
Samantha Hunter resides in Westchester, New York and has written entertainment and lifestyle features for BET.com, Essence, SoulBounce, Inspirer, Haute d’ Vie, Black Westchester, DELUX, and VH1.com. Her family and friends say she’s always going somewhere, but you can find her on Instagram at @Sapodillic.