Karen and I saw Postmodern Jukebox at Town Hall on Dec 20, 2023. I hadn't heard of them but she was a fan through their YouTube videos. They're a band led by Scott Bradlee - - their jam is to take a pseudo contemporary song, something no older than the 70s, and remake it in the style of the music of an unrelated era, often the 30s and 40s. The best song of the night was a remake of the Spice Girls' "Wannabe" done in the style of the Andrews Sisters:
As Karen said, hearing these pop songs in a completely new setting and style points out what good songs they are. It's not just pop garbage, it's truly good music. There's good bones on that stuff.
Let me give you a tour through the personnel. I wish I could tell you all their names but there was no program and I haven't much useful online.
The host was a chunky Black guy with a strong voice and lots of verve.
There were six people in the band, all men.
2. Guitar, banjo, etc.
3. Stand-up bass, guitar, etc.
4. Flute, clarinet, saxophone.
Three female singers:
1. A blonde (never caught her name).
2. A tall Latina, Tia Simone.
3. A short Latina, Effie Passero.
And one sassy little firecracker of a tap dancer. The opening number was "Thriller," sung by the host and done in a deep-fried Deep South arrangement heavy on the banjo, and her tap solo really made me sit up and take notice. She was announcing that she was going to be a highlight of the evening and she shore was.
The blonde came out wearing a kelly green and white dress with a green crinoline. She sang a bright, sparkly, classic Hollywood Blonde Musical Moment arrangement of "Basket Case" by Green Day.
Next up, the tall Latina, Tia Simone, doing I song I didn't know but clearly the woman ahead of me knew every song and every gesture. The women's outfits were extraordinary so I'll mention each one. For this number Simone wore a shimmering blue dress and rhinestone pumps. The dress clung to her in a very appealing way which prompted the host to say, "I hate to see you go but I love to see you walk away."
Here's Simone and PMJ doing Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters."
The most impressive singer on the bill was the short Latina, Effie Passero. Jesus Lord what a set of pipes on that girl. She had a whiff of Yma Sumac, which is never a bad thing, always a valid choice. And what a treat, YouTube has the first song she did, "I Was Made for Loving You" by Kiss. Passero was wearing a red sequined gown that showed a lot of skin, displaying her ample tattoos and ample bosom.
The tap dancer came out and did a short interlude. I should mention she did most of her dancing on a wooden platform with a microphone pointed at her feet. She had me grinning like an idiot whenever she came onstage. That expression, "grinning like an idiot" - - is it still OK to use?
The three ladies came out in tomato red dresses, each built to show off their particular assets. They did a song I didn't know. The host did a jaunty, strutting version of "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons. A song I didn't know but I jotted down a few lyrics and poof!, there it is on Google. The boys in the band seemed to be having a lot of fun but maybe they're just good actors.
Tia Simone, the tall Latina, did a song I didn't know. Her hair was up and her form-fitting purple sequined gown caught the colored lights in a way that lit her up like the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. The blonde did a powerhouse ballad, costumed and lit like a film noir femme fatale. The band did an instrumental number where each of the guys got a solo. Kick ass.
The highlight of the show was the short Latina, Effie Passero, singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." This was the one song that wasn't really remade as something else, it was done straight up. Maybe more of a gospel vibe than Cohen had in mind but nothing offbeat. Passero KILLED IT. She held nothing back, she was astonishing. She wore a white jersey gown lovingly draped around her curves. The audience went nutso.
Another tap solo and then the three ladies doing the Andrews Sisters version of "Wannabe" that I included above.
The lead guitar player did an amusing medley of Christmas songs, encouraging the audience to sing along. That was adorable.
Karen had set things up with me before we got there, that we could leave whenever we felt like we were ready. It was an 8pm show, she had to work the next day and had put in some long days that week and the previous weeks. About eighty minutes into the show I saw her reach down for her bag (she was probably just getting a tissue or similar) and jumped right on it like a duck on a June bug. "Do you want to leave?" We decided to stay for a bit and check in later. We left after the guitar Christmas medley.
Yes, we were both kinda tired and wanting to not be out too late but I should also mention that we were also suffering from Showstopper Fatigue. Every number was intense, vibrant, extraordinary. I think they thought they were varying the texture with the tap solos and instrumental numbers, also alternating up tempo songs with ballads, but while these were much-needed bits of variety they didn't really change the energy level. It was a bit much. We had both gotten what we wanted, we were more than fully satisfied.