Thursday night brought world-class singer Tori Kelly to St. Paul for a stop at The Palace Theater on her ‘Acoustic Sessions’ tour. Mixing things up a bit, the singer decided to hit the road to perform a more intimate show than she had in years past, and to celebrate her career as a singer/songwriter thus far.
The former American Idol contestant has consistently released critically-acclaimed music, beginning with the release of her debut album, Unbreakable Smile in 2016. Kelly’s lead single, “Nobody Love,” became her first appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and in 2016 Tori was nominated for the Best New Artist at the 58th annual Grammy Awards.
The 2018 release of her gospel, jazz, and R&B-infused sophomore LP, Hiding Place has been highly touted by music journalists, casual listeners, and fans of her work alike.
Tickets for the performance were still available when the doors opened, but even after arriving just fifteen minutes before Tory was set to take the stage, there were still lines of eager fans waiting to get in. Combine that with the fact that this tour does not have any opening acts, Tori ended up taking the stage just a few minutes late at around 8:05 PM.
As she pointed out early into the performance, the stage set up for this tour is reminiscent of an intimate living room, complete with lighting fixtures, end tables, chairs, and even a couch. Tori was joined on stage by guitarist Mateus Asato, a ridiculously talented musician who continually blew the minds of every member of the audience with technically intricate guitar interludes & solos.
A little over a half hour into the performance, there was a medical emergency near the front of the crowd which caused Tori & Mateus to briefly leave the stage while EMT’s and Palace staff members tended to the individual. Thankfully, the issue seemed to be cleared up rather quickly with everyone turning out just fine, and the show continued on only a few minutes later.
From top to bottom, the entire performance by Tori & Mateus was absolutely incredible. The setlist was masterfully crafted, truly taking us on a journey through Tori’s entire career up to this point, with the singer making sure to share stories about the origin and meaning of each and every song.
The performance also featured some of Kelly’s most popular cover songs, including “Suit & Tie” by Justin Timberlake, “Thinkin’ Bout You” by Frank Ocean, and the song she performed on the popular TV show America’s Most Talented Kid, “Keep On Singin’ My Song” by Christina Aguilera.
For almost two hours, the entire crowd hung on Kelly’s every word, often taking opportunities between songs to voice their admiration with a number of different sayings, which Kelly handled with grace and professionalism.
Here’s a thought, simply showing up, paying the ticket price, enjoying the performance and clapping after each song is another way to show how much you love an artist, but if you want to disrupt changeovers and simple breaks with a saying like, “you are SO loved!” or even worse, “wow you are SO HOT!” I guess that works too…
Annoyances with the crowd aside, it was a performance I genuinely enjoyed attending and would have no issue recommending to other people who may be interested. The stripped-down set put emphasis exactly where it needs to go, on Tori Kelly’s impeccable voice. That’s really all there is to it, this woman can sing her absolute ass off, and any time she wants to do that I will be more than happy to give my full attention.
Tori Kelly Setlist – St. Paul, MN – 3/21/19
- Nobody Love
- Never Alone
- Pretty Fades
- I Was Made For Loving You
- Take Back Home Girl (Chris Lane cover)
- Two Places
- Keep On Singin’ My Song (Christina Aguilera cover)
- The Only Exception (Paramore cover)
- Bring Me Home
- Thinkin’ Bout You (Frank Ocean cover)
- Suit & Tie (Justin Timberlake cover)
- Confetti / Daydream / Eyelashes / Stained / Treasure / Celestial / Upside Down / Rocket / Paper Hearts / All in My Head / Dear No One
- Unbreakable Smile
- Kid I Used To Know
- Your Words
- Psalm 42
- Sorry Would Go A Long Way
- Should’ve Been Us
- Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing (Stevie Wonder cover)
- Change Your Mind