Having been subjected to a gazillion performances of Girl On Fire during Alicia Keys' relentless promotional trail, it was great to hear something different from her new album when she took to the stage at the Royal Variety Gala.
Being in Britain, and performing for its royalty, it was a smart move picking the song Brand New Me, as it was co-written with British singer-songwriter Emeli Sande. Whether it was an intentional move or not, only Alicia knows, but it was a fitting song choice. It gave her a chance to showcase some softer vocals, as well as show fans who are worried about the musical direction of Girl On Fire that the new album still has some "classic" Alicia Keys moments on it.
I was really enjoying the performance while Alicia was sat at the piano. Her voice was definitely hoarse, even when the vocal was relaxed, but the extent of it only became clear when it came to the belted notes in the closing half of the song. This is when things took a turn for the worse: with her voice sounding harsh, and her pitch being all over the place. Honestly, it just sounded like she was shouting.
I'm not sure if all the live performances of Girl On Fire- which she herself has said is hard to sing- and all the travelling have just temporarily taken their toll on her voice, or if this is, more worryingly, a sign of permanent changes to Alicia Keys' voice. I suppose we'll have to wait and see.
For anyone who doesn't know, the Royal Variety Performance is an annual charity event that is attended by at least one Royal family member- usually the Queen. I don't envy her, because this is one seriously drawn-out and tired affair, consisting of anything from magical acts, to musical performance, to comedy routines.
Watching the edited down version is a chore in itself, so I can only imagine how awful it must be to have to attend this event every year and watch a bunch of people you don't know, perform acts you have no interest in. Last years show was total car crash television, running over four hours in length!