Friday Night: Mary J. Blige at Reliant Stadium

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The payoff is a personal connection you almost never see, especially as pop music grows more prefabricated, Autotuned and saturated with artificial emotion with each passing year. She didn't even need to sing "Not Gon' Cry" and "Be Without You" Friday night, and in fact barely did as the crowd was more than happy to pick up the slack.

But when Mary J. Blige sings a song, it stays sung, and it's 100 percent the truth. And inspiration and empowerment are as critical to the bargain as pain. In her cover of U2's "One," there's a part of the song where Bono pulls back, as if the emotional weight of his lyrics makes him falter for just a second. Blige plunges right on through.

Blige ripped through her set Friday at such a furious clip she had to add an extra song, "No More Drama." The music is based on the theme from The Young and the Restless, and quite a few of her songs approach the same kind of melodrama as the venerable CBS soap opera. But when Blige injects the power of her force-of-nature voice into those stories -- she sang so hard Friday her whole body literally shook a few times -- catharsis doesn't come any rawer, for either Miss Mary or her audience.

Personal Bias: Just love her.

The Crowd: Ladies' night. Well-behaved husbands/boyfriends.

Overheard in the Crowd: "I don't think Beyoncé can do that."

Random Notebook Dump: Doug E. Fresh's name was written next to "Keep Risin'" on the set list, but the man behind '80s rap essential "The Show" never materialized. Pity.

Mutton Bustin' Report: The sheep were slippery Friday, and they all ran in a circle after one rider wiped out. Mutton bustin' rules.

Location Info


NRG Stadium

1 NRG Park, Houston, TX

Category: Music

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