Selma, Texas, July 29 Toward the end of CenTex's most recent death valley heat wave -- 21 days straight of 100-degree heat -- that's when the Quiet Storm hit. In Selma, no less. And make no mistake, despite the local advertising barrage creating the illusion that the outdoor shed, which seats 8,000 and another 12K on the lawn, is practically part of Austin's thriving Red River strip, the Verizon Wireless Olympic Village is just outside San Antonio. In other words, the hourlong drive down I-35 proved the Verizon's outlet food cafeteria isn't to be confused with Southpark Meadows. "It's hot," announced opener India Arie, a young Atlanta homegirl who should be used to the heat by now. Backed by a six-piece band (bass, guitar, keyboards, drums, and two singers) dressed all in white, Arie's bright yellow 'n' orange outfit was only slightly less colorful than her 35-minute set. Save for a shimmering cover of "Summertime," the 25-year-old diva in the making drew her set exclusively from the soul stylings of her aptly titled Motown debut from earlier this year, Acoustic Soul. The album's "Intro/Interlude" ("This is in remembrance of our ancestors, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, and all that came before ") served just that purpose, preceding lush versions of Arie's "Brown Skin," "Video," and even a smidgen of Outkast's "So Fresh, So Clean." If the singer's baby headwrap wasn't a dead giveaway, "Brown Skin" was: Erykah Badu, the next generation. "It's hot out here," she reiterated between very un-Badu-like dancing, twirling, and bouncing. "Stevie Wonder says he likes this song." Why not? "Promises" is every bit a part of the legacy he helped found. Closing on "Ready for Love," the endearing Arie announced one last time that it was hot before exiting stage left. By then, however, a refreshing breeze had started swaying the enormous disco ball hanging just out front of the stage, and kept it in motion throughout Sade's summer rainstorm. Appearing from behind a sheer screen, her eight-piece band silhouetted by spotlights, Sade, the queen of smooth R&B ("Quiet Storm" on urban radio), stood in profile and let her siren song be drowned out by a worshipful, nearly sold-out house that didn't let up all night. In fact, in her high-neck, royal-fitted lavender dream, the Nigerian vocalist had a habit of striking that pose throughout the evening, letting the undulating of her mad curves do as much mesmerizing as her rich mocha cry. With the deep blue, green, and orange lights swathing her onstage at all turns, Sade was a sight and sound to behold. "Your Love Is King," "Cherish the Day," "Somebody Already Broke My Heart," "Cherry Pie," one after another they came in waves of Lovers Rock, the title of her last album and this tour. At one point, off went her high heels, up went her "Hallelujah," and in kicked the performance for real. "I feel it, too," she murmured. "Smooth Operator" came 40 minutes in, followed closely by "Jezebel" and a sampling of other greatest hits -- many of them accompanied by water imagery on the screen behind the stage. The thunder and lightening video was especially apropos. Sade's quiet storm really is "The Sweetest Taboo."
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