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Concert Mon Feb 24 2014
I stumbled across Nicole Atkins' music when she appeared on the Ron and Fez show on SiruisXM. She was promoting her first album Neptune City, which was a great showcase of her voice and her quirkiness. Atkins was smart and engaging on what had to be one of her first nationwide shows. Since then her music has matured quite a bit and the comparisons to Roy Orbison multiplied, which is certainly not bad thing. She seems destined for the larger venues, so seeing her at a smaller place like Beat Kitchen was certainly a treat.
First up on stage was Davey Horne, a soft spoken Scottish folk singer. He came off as charming. His accent clearly affected the crowd, with a few shouts proclaiming his attractiveness. He even joked about it being too thick. Luckily he was able to back up that response with a very good, albeit short, set. Horne completely personified the image of a traditional folk singer, right down to the harmonica around his neck during a few of the songs.
Arc Iris was up next and I was not prepared for their amazing performance. They certainly dressed to impress. Lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Jocie Adams wore a white leotard adorned with a splash of glitter. Cellist Robin Ryczek wore a sequined vest that mirrored keyboardist Zach Tenorio-Teller's shiny shirt. Drummer Ray Belli's white shirt and white pants made him look like a droog straight out of A Clockwork Orange. Their attire combined with the leafy vines adorning the stage created the effect of stumbling upon a group of musical faeries. It felt magical, especially since their music matched the scene.
Arc Iris' sound take cues from a countless genres. Songs like "Powder Train" sound like jaunty blues tune, filled with a Cajun spice that spills out of a jazzy shell. The juxtaposition of playful piano and the boisterous trumpet during "Singing So Sweetly" was utterly dazzling. It was a gypsy cabaret show with a freaky New Orleans lean to it. Adams' voice is wonderfully strident, bringing on thoughts of Joanna Newsom and Bjork, but such comparisons miss the more inherently playful notions of her voice. Her ability to jump back and forth between nearly every instrument while still having the energy to dance and sing was very impressive. I'm sure more than a few of the audience members will be at the CD release party at Schubas that she announced during the set.
Nicole Atkins was joined by Horne and Tenorio-Miller to fill out her band. Atkins was very cool on stage. She comfortably danced around between verses, enticing the crowd to do the same. Atkins used two microphones throughout the night, powerfully belting out the songs. During "Who Killed the Moonlight" her energy was unstoppable as she pulled out a drumstick seemingly out of nowhere to clash her drummer's cymbal.
Her charismatic side was in full force as well. She continually talked to the crow, making them feel right at home. Cute little motions, like having a small blue elephant peeking out of her pocket as she sang "What Do You Know?" made the whole event feel like a house party. She was just so welcoming, that even Jocie Adams jumped backed into the crowd to dance to the music.
Due to the nature of the stage Beat Kitchen, there was inability to move backstage and return for an encore. In lieu of the traditional encore Atkins decided to go into the crowd for her final song. She slinked her way through the venue, lovingly singing "Above as Below" as she hugged audience members. The song is so slow and inviting, it was a sweet moment and fitting end to an intimate show.