Ari Lennox on stage at the Cleveland House of Blues in front of a sold out crowd.

The sultry voice of Ari Lennox touched down in Cleveland, OH, Friday night at the House of Blues (March 17th) on her Age/Sex/Location tour. The “Shea Butter Baby” singers’ tour was initially 27 cities. It’s at least 28 right now, as Cleveland was left out during the tour announcement and wisely added later on. Live Nation Urban promotes the tour.

Everyone lucky enough to get a ticket to Ari’s sold-out show stood outside in 30-degree ‘Cleveland weather’ anxiously waiting to get inside. As random frigid winds passed between buildings, those who wore a little less seemed just fine — maybe they were warm from all those pre-game drinks for St. Patrick’s day. Others snuck into the House of Blues restaurant to stay warm and get inside ahead of the crowd. 

The doors opened, and security worked their way down the line, checking IDs outside and handing out wristbands for drinks. Approaching the front door, a small sign illuminated next to the crowd read ‘Upcoming Events 2/26 Durand Bernarr,’ Bernarr a collaborator of Ari Lennox on his song “Stuck.”, also had a sold-out show in the Foundation Room at the House of Blues, a few weeks ago.

“Go to the right if you got a bag,” said security, as they looked inside all bags, purses, etc. In the main room, the feeling of excitement and anticipation was electric. Everybody sang along to songs by Kodak Black, Megan Thee Stallion, etc., over the sound system. Others pushed and squeezed their way through to the front of the stage with drinks in hand. 

Co-writer on “Pressure” Jai’Len Josey & Alex Vaughn warms up the stage for Ari Lennox on their first tour.

Jai’Len Josey walked out on stage and began singing acapella, immediately getting the entire room to pay attention before the beat dropped. In all-black cargo pants, a bra with a silver chest chain, and a short leather jacket Jai’Len Josey continued to raise the crowd’s energy. This is Josey’s first tour following the release of her first official single, “Good Soup.” The 23-year-old singer’s pen is something to look out for; Josey co-wrote the lead single “Pressure” on Ari Lennox’s latest album with Johnta Austin, Jermaine Dupri, and Bryan-Michael Cox.

Rocking a short hairstyle, a black jacket, and shorts, Alex Vaughn sang along with the support of a keyboard player. After a long setup change, the crowd eventually warmed up to her. Things got moving once Vaughn went into a cover of Destiny’s Child‘s “Cater 2 U.” Halfway through her set, Vaughn, a classicly trained pianist, sang while playing the keyboard. She showed off her skills as a musician and an artist; seeing how she grows in her career will be interesting. This is Alex Vaughn’s first time on tour; her debut album, The Hurtbook, is out now.

Lennox excites the crowd with a mostly all-woman band.

The curtain closed for yet another set change, and people began pressing themselves closer to the stage. The chatter of anticipation when the lights dimmed and the screams for Ari were loud. As the curtain slowly parted, “POF” began to play, and Ari and her band stood behind a sheer white curtain. We could only see Ari’s silhouette, and everyone in the crowd went crazy.

Aside from one male background singer, her all-woman band backed her up on bass, keyboard, and drums. String lights hung above everyone on stage, a neon sign read Ari Lennox in the back, and multiple tube lights were around the stage. The lights changed colors throughout the show — this was an impressive setup, especially for a House of Blues concert.  

Wearing a black Catwoman-esque suit, Ari’s just a vibe.

Known for her sultry and soulful voice, Ari made sure she brought the vibe to match, wearing a black catwoman-esque suit. Strutting across the stage, swaying the crowd through all (or most) of their favorite songs like “Outside,” “Hoodie,” and, of course, the Creed II soundtrack highlight “Shea Butter Baby.” Lennox waved goodbye to the sold-out crowd while everyone chanted, “Ari! Ari! Ari!” — the lights flashed on and off as the drummer tapped along on the kick drum.

“I know she’s not done yet!” a nearby fan shouted “— she’s still gotta do pressure!” after about 30 seconds, the oh-so-familiar riff to “Pressure” began as the lead single on Lennox’s latest album, Age/Sex/Location brought the show to a close. At the end of 2022, the Washington D.C. native announced this would be her last tour. Ari puts on a great show, and we highly suggest seeing her on this tour before it’s too late.

Is this the last Ari Lennox tour?

Before announcing the Age/Sex/Location tour, Ari let us in on a secret. She let fans know that she fears flying and won’t be doing any shows that require her to board a plane, thus leaving some of her international fans out of luck — unless they make it to the London and Amsterdam dates in May. We assume Ari will take a plane for those limited international shows; Lennox has said to be looking for therapy to overcome her fear of flying.

Beyond that, the singer did not explain why they would stop touring altogether. Still, we hope she will consider appearing at significant festivals over the summer. In June, Ari is scheduled to appear at The Roots Picnic. Nobody knows what Ari will do next, including her — it seems; we hope she will continue making music. Lennox is one of R&B’s true rising stars, with her unique vocal tone and introspective lyrics.