REVIEW — Ari Lennox Turned up the Heat for Valentine’s Day at Summit Music Hall

Summit Music Hall celebrated Valentine’s Day with three modern R&B legends: Jai’Len Josey, Alex Vaughn and Ari Lennox. The glamourous trio sold out the music hall and curated a steamy soundtrack for their special Valentine’s Day performance in Denver. 

As fans packed together to escape the snow outside and removed large coats to reveal all shades of red imaginable, Jai’Len Josey brought her unique, passionate grooves to start the evening with a sensual bang — a quick tease for the hot-and-heavy atmosphere that would dominate the night.

Ari Lennox Denver

Jai’Len Josey at the Summit Music Hall

Next up — Alex Vaughn. Vaughn quickly won the crowd over with a reference to Desinty’s Child and thrilling high notes. With a pause, Vaughn called to the crowd, “make some noise for R&B right now,”  which was met with hearty cheers and applause. Red light accented her knee-length red dress as she swayed fans with “Mirage” and even teased an upcoming release, titled “If You Know You Know,” which comes out on February 24th. 

Shifting the energy, Vaughn worked through songs off her most recent album “The Hurtbook” and described different situations in her life that inspired the music. “Man these songs hurt!” Vaughn exclaimed as the audience echoed her sentiment in agreement. 


After pulling on her fans’ sentimental heartstrings, Vaughn jumped headfirst into a pool of sonic sensuality. “Where are my single people at?? I wanna see y’all on your worst behavior.” Vaughn said prefacing her track, “Demon Time.” This was Vaughn’s first time in Denver. Hopefully, it will not be her last. 

Alex Vaughn at the Summit Music Hall

After a restless set break, gentle pink light filled the room while Ari Lennox’s band, complete with three backup singers, familiarized themselves with the venue. Thin pillars of light lined the backdrop with a neon sign that read “Ari” in her signature cursive font. 

The crowd burst with excitement as Lennox walked on stage accompanied by cheering fans, who drowned out her attempt to say hello to her fanatic crowd. Quickly, “Boy Bye,” a flirtatious call-and-response ballad, pulled the crowd into motion. Dancing across the stage in a skin-tight, pearl pink dress with a graceful neckline that showcased bold tattoos, Lennox looked calm and confident. 

Each unique beat, from songs like “Pressure” and “Outside” brought a different rhythm to the performance. Likewise, fans moved with each song, boldly accenting the moments that spoke to them. R&B seems to touch the soul in a unique way, discussing emotional life and the physical body in an intimate way that some genres do not even attempt to breach. This physicality leads to a truly live crowd, full of shifting energies and emotions.

Ari Lennox Denver

Ari Lennox at Summit Music Hall

Lennox took a moment to shout out the openers who graced the stage earlier in the night. The band behind Lennox held each groove together with practiced patience, following her vocal lead with remarkable ease. The persona that Lennox expresses within her songs — a very real person who demands the space and the love she deserves — was perfectly in line with her stage presence. Fans swooned over her every move.

Lennox’s “New Apartment” with a glossy transition into “Whipped Cream” shook the crowd as Lennox dove deeper into her discography. Lennox, who is known as a Herbie Hancock fan, made sure the jazz undertones of each song were elevated by the live band. Solos exposed the strength of each instrument and the unique flair of the musicians themselves. “Queen Space”, “Backseat” and “BMO” kept the crowd bouncing and the hour grew late. 

Hopeless romantics can look to Lennox for inspiration in life, or for a future valentines playlist.

All photography by Maya Boustany. Full gallery here.