CONCERT REVIEW: Fantasia Reaches For The Light At New York City’s Beacon Theater

Without question, Season 3 American Idol winner and Grammy-winning artist Fantasia Barrino is a star. And on Saturday night at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, Fantasia’s star shined as brightly as ever.

The down-to-earth musical diva’s weekend performance was a celebration — of her new album Sides Effects of You, of her love for her fans, and of her life. Anyone in the know knows that life has been a bit rocky for Tasia in the last year or so, but her fans packed the place on Saturday night to let her know that they have her back, and to welcome her back to her rightful place among the stars.

After being preceded by the raw Harlem comedian Smokey Suarez and a rhythmic set from the disco/R&B group GQ (including a particularly groovy take on “Disco Nights (Rock-Freak)”), it was time for Fantasia to take the stage. As she stepped out of the wings sharply dressed in a black pantsuit and heels, Fantasia made a request of the audience that they were all to happy to oblige — “Everybody stand up! We came to party!” No more than two minutes into “I’m Doin’ Me” the heels were kicked off and the party was kicked into high gear as Tasia flitted and glided across the stage in high spirits. The six-piece band and trio of backup singers dug in and got comfortable along with Tasia for the second song also off her second album, “Man Of The House.” Not only was it very apparent that Fantasia “looked good” — but her infectious and playful energy was clearly on display as she sang and danced to the content of her heart and ours, a clear indication that she was “feeling good” as well.

Oh, and let’s not forget who we’re talking about here, the “I can belt out a song with the best of them” Fantasia Barrino! On the crowd favorite “Free Yourself,” the Southern girl who won over America at the age of 19 with her sass and song (remember how she clenched the Idol win with her rendition of “Summertime”?) reminded us why we adore her in the first darn place — her outstanding voice.

After three songs, it was time for the audience to sit down, and Tasia asked us to do just that so she could take her time on the next song–“Trust Him” and in true Fantasia fashion, “take it to church.” As she gave us a taste of the Sam Cooke classic “A Change Is Gonna Come” you could feel and hear her channeling some Aretha Franklin. “Collard Greens & Cornbread” got the crowd to shouting as Tasia asked, “Can I get a witness out there?” and some of the guys in the audience took that moment to make their presence known as they shouted with pride and passion, “You better sing!” For a hour, that’s just what Fantasia did, looking and sounding her best. “Feels so good to be back on the stage,” she shared, “This is where I belong.”

Fantasia is known for getting emotional on stage, and she appeared to be just that as she worked it out on “Truth Is” and then belted out “Ain’t Gon’ Beg You”– at one point banging on a speaker positioned on the edge of the stage. Tasia took a time out from singing and got her dance on as the band played some songs that she grew up on, by artists that she said “it would be disrespectful not to give respect to” that evening. So we watched Fantasia get busy as the band banged out “Nasty Girl” by Vanity 6, “In My House” by the Mary Jane Girls, “The Glamorous Life” by Sheila E, and “The Bird” by Morris Day & The Time. It’s been reported that to achieve her stunning 50-pound weight loss Tasia’s been working out up to twice a day, and that interlude could’ve sure counted as part of her evening workout, cause she worked it out, flanked by three backup dancers who she challenged to keep up.

After that it was back to the magic that Fantasia creates with her voice, and her performance of “When I See You” was right in the pocket. “Something about the music just makes me go bananas,” Fantasia shared with the crowd. “I don’t need a drink or a drug, the music just takes me there.” And so she went there, sitting on the edge of the stage and letting us into her heart and giving us her soul with “Bittersweet.” After the confession came a declaration from Fantasia: “I’m letting go of relationships and all of the negative stuff that people are saying about me, because what God has for me is for me!” Her performance of “Even Angels” moved the crowd as much as her vulnerability and renewed vigor for life, and the evening ended on an ethereal note as white lights washed over the audience and Fantasia blessed us with the lead single off of Side Effects of You, the “Nightshift”-sampling “Lose to Win” (video above) and an encore performance of “Lighthouse.” After an evening spent watching a star beckoned back into her brilliance, I wished upon a star that everyone who was able to see Fantasia at the Beacon Saturday night copped the take-away, which goes far beyond the music and is an invaluable life-ism — even in your darkest moments, reach for the light.

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[Photo: Getty Images]