alicia keys O2 arena

Live Report: Alicia Keys – The O2 Arena, London

Live Report: Alicia Keys – The O2 Arena, London 

Only nine days after performing at the Platinum Party at the Palace, Alicia Keys is back in the capital for another magical party at London’s 02 Arena. Adam Davidson reviews. 

The evening felt like a celebration of the 15-time Grammy winner’s career from her early 2000s R&B to her latest album with the help of her special guests.  

Keys came out in dramatic style to ‘Nat King Cole’, the dark brooding lights and heavy bass had the feel of an industrial nightclub but it perfectly matched the tone of the opening section and helped to build the atmosphere in the Arena.  

Alicia Keys had some surprises in store for the London crowd as she introduced special guest Sampha to sing their collaboration ‘3 Hour Drive’ followed by Mahalia for ‘Show Me Love.’  

After ‘Diary’, curtains draped the main stage and Alicia Keys appeared at the other side of the Arena at an elevated stage. For this section of the show there was a focus on her latest album ‘Keys’, which features ‘Originals’ and ‘Unlocked’ versions of her songs. Originals being more relaxed piano ‘vibes’ whilst Unlocked are heavy bass versions. 

Keys became a DJ and singer rolled into one, cue the airhorn. She performed snippets of both originals and unlocked versions of ‘Skydive’, ‘Is it Insane’ and ‘Only You’, each time asking the audience which version of the song they preferred. The unanimous answer was always the unlocked version which encapsulated the party atmosphere inside the 02 Arena.  

She finished this section of the show with City of Gods pt 2 followed by the original collaboration with Fivio Foreign and Kanye West, City of Gods, continuing that chilled vibes vs bass battle. This transitioned into Empire State of Mind pt 2 before the main stage curtains lifted and the music video for the original appeared on the big screen with Jay-Z’s verse blasting over the speakers. It was a spectacle to behold as Alicia Keys walked from one side of the Arena to the other singing the chorus to return to the main stage.  

The show had stunning visual effects and production value but there is also something refreshingly old school, almost crooner-esque, about Alicia Keys’ delivery and performance as she interacts with the audience during piano riffs. It shows why the singer has remained so popular and successful for over 20 years – she is able to adapt and yet remain true to her background.  

Following her fan-favourite hits like ‘Girl on Fire’ and ‘Superwoman’, Alicia Keys turned up the party atmosphere which started by welcoming Jorja Smith on stage to perform ‘On My Mind’, which got a huge ovation from the London crowd.  Keys finished the main section of the show in style with her number one and 7x Platinum hit No One. The singer worked the crowd in the chorus, standing up from her piano and had the whole Arena singing along in unison.  

The singer came out for a two-song encore which started with ‘Like You’ll Never See Me Again’ which smoothly transitioned into ‘If I Ain’t Got You.’ When the audience noticed the transition and cheered there was a noticeable smile on Keys’ face. The show was fairly relentless without many breaks in between songs but despite that, she still managed to hit all the difficult notes right to the end and was on top form throughout.  

For two hours, Alicia Keys encapsulated why she is one of the great talents of modern music. She can do it all: sing, play piano, DJ and most importantly put on an incredible spectacle for her fans.  

Image credit: Christie Goodwin