July 04, 2017
Thousands of people waited through a rainstorm to watch Mary J. Blige perform Tuesday night on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia.
The "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul" headlined the city's annual 'Welcome America' event, a free concert and fireworks show that celebrates Independence Day.
Heavy rains delayed both Blige's set and the fireworks that capped the show. Many of the concertgoers who did not bring umbrellas sought shelter under plastic chairs.
"It feels so good to have fans and people who will stay through so much," Blige told NBC10 before taking the stage around 9:25 p.m.
The event also included performances by Philly's own Boyz II Men, Broadway star Mandy Gonzalez and the Philly POPS Big Band.
Even as the concert kicked off, at 7 p.m., some in the crowd were ready for Blige and Boyz II Men to take the stage.
Mary J Blige is heading the #WawaWelcomeAmerica festival, so there will absolutely be no hateration, holleration in this dancerie.— Noah S. Thompson (@noahsthompson) July 4, 2017
Before the rain hit, Boyz II Men rolled through a series of hits that included "On Bended Knee," "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday," and "I'll Make Love to You."
Reaction to their performance was mixed on Twitter. Some people hailed the hometown effort from the 90s' R&B group. But others thought they have sounded better, with some questioning the sound technicians running the show.
Damn feel for everyone getting poured on on the parkway but at least they got to see Boys to Men kill it. #WawaWelcomeAmerica— Jim Pisani (@JimPisani4) July 5, 2017
Boys II Men ... love these guys but they don't sound that great tonight. Drummer seems off... #WawaWelcomeAmerica— Bob Marsdale (@BobMarsdale) July 5, 2017
The skies opened up with rain shortly after Boyz II Men wrapped up their set. Yet, many in the crowd stayed to watch Blige perform a set that included "Love Yourself," "Enough Cryin,'" "I Can Love You," "Don't Mind," "Share My World," and "Everything."
She performed for more than an hour, capping her set with "Thick of It," "Just Fine," and "Family Affair."
Reaction on Twitter was mostly positive.
Mary J. Blige catalog is undefeated she can run thru like 15 hits and still not sing your favorite song yet— Chris graves (@Copilotva) July 5, 2017
The concert was followed by a fireworks display that will lit up the skies behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
But long before the fireworks began – more than an hour after they were initially slated – people began flocking to the Parkway to enjoy outdoor games, a zipline and arts and crafts.