PJ Morton 

What a wonderful experience it is to have your expectations not only met, but surpassed, the first time you see an artist in concert! Such was my experience seeing my first PJ Morton concert, February 22, 2014 at The Howard Theatre. The mood of the night was immediately set before the show started with great R&B jams from the likes of Jill Scott, SWV, and Maxwell to get the audience ready for the atmosphere that was to come.

After the opening act and a brief intermission, the time finally came for the unassuming, New Orleans-native keyboardist from Maroon 5 to grace the stage. Opening with “Hard Enough,” it was clear that PJ Morton is a master on the keys as evidenced by his quick switching between two keyboards all while maintaining his vocal performance & eye contact with the audience. When he moved to “Heavy” (which features fellow Maroon 5 member Adam Levine), he started a dance party and had the crowd standing up & rocking with him for the rest of the show. Speaking of partying, PJ’s lead background singer Josiah “JoJo” Martin is obviously the life of their band’s party, with a commanding, fun-loving stage presence and a beautiful voice that is worthy of his own solo projects. A highlight of the night was when PJ slowed it down with a cover of Bob Marley’s classic “Is this Love.” Keeping it slow & smooth, a (very talented!) fan’s dream came true when he brought her on stage to sing Tweet’s verse on “Love You More” – which she killed so well that she left PJ & his band visibly impressed. Continuing in the slow set, he then performed his hit “Work It Out” during which I overheard another audience member accurately comment that “PJ sings that type of music that makes you want to be in any kind of relationship – good, bad, or indifferent.” PJ’s vocals during this gorgeous song were reminiscent of the beautiful & underrated style of Glenn Lewis. He rounded out the slow set by taking us to church with the inspirational & uplifting “Mountains and Molehills.” After the slow set, PJ started wrapping it up with Grammy-nominated “Only One,” followed by a heartwarming cover of the Cheers theme song to close out the show. He introduced that final performance as the way he traditionally ends his shows, affectionately calling the audience his extended family. All in all, the night showcased PJ Morton’s clear talent at making feel good music that you can groove to – whether fast or slow – that’s simple, real, & beautiful.

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