Alicia Keys finishes on a high

AMY MAAS
Last updated 08:55 20/12/2013
Alicia Keys

GIRL ON FIRE: Alicia Keys

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Alicia Keys and John Legend
Auckland, Vector Arena, 19 December

She came to set Auckland on fire, but when Alicia Keys took to the stage last night there was a fear she couldn't flame a burning ember. Then again, she hasn't sold 30 million albums for nothing.

The 14-time Grammy-winner closed the curtain on her 10-month Girl on Fire tour at the Vector Arena to a near sold-out crowd but technical difficulties marred the first part of her set.

In contrast, John Legend, Keys' opening act was pitch-perfect as he started the night off with fan-favourites Made to Love, Tonight and Alright.

He kept his leather jacket on. We took ours off. He crooned. We swooned.

Legend, a nine-time Grammy artist who released Love in the Future earlier this year, is so talented his voice is like liquid. He doesn't break a sweat - we were close enough to tell - and sometimes it's hard to believe he's even drawing breath through his notes.

The 34-year-old mixed a bit of the old with the new during his one-hour set with Ordinary People as crowd-pleasing as his encore All of Me.

He reminded fans he hadn't set foot in the city since 2005 - but he wouldn't let another eight years pass. We hope not.

Legend is a hard act to follow, so when Keys eventually came on stage belting out Karma and the pitch sounded off it could easily have been cold feet.

But four songs in, leading out of Listen To Your Heart she paced the stage reciting some sort of monologue. One minute passed, then two, then three. Eventually she caught on - the only thing the crowd could hear was silence.

Three microphones and a few drum beats later, Keys was all smiles, saying it would be "a tragedy" if she couldn't tell us to "listen to your heart".

Keys, who alternated between sitting down at the piano, standing at the keys and swinging her hips alongside her dancers, knows how to hit the high notes - but that's no secret.

She kept them high as she launched into her set with hits like Sleepin with a Broken Heart, Fallin' and Unbreakable setting the crowd on a rollercoaster of her own broken emotions.

Keys made us believe she was winding down as she asked the crowd to "light up your cellphones" as she broke into No One, thanked the city for helping her celebrate the final night of her tour and then left the stage.

But she was soon back with young son Egypt in tow. The toddler, not afraid of a rousing crowd, joined in the dance routine as his mother launched into Girl On Fire.

A quick - and the only - outfit change later, Keys rounded out the night with Empire State of Mind before her son was handed the mike to say a quick farewell with prompts from his mother: "Hello Auckland. How are you. We Love You".

The show might have been patchy and filled with faux theatrics, but it was a near perfect ending.

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