Review: Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox @ The Burt
This is the first time I’ve seen a Postmodern Jukebox (PMJ) performance. I think there was a video with a clown or something that crossed my Facebook Newsfeed awhile back and people were saying great stuff about it, but yeesh…clowns…(shudder). So I didn’t watch it.
However, I knew the premise about re-working popular songs into vintage classics and I thought it sounded fun. What I didn’t anticipate though, was how hard it might be to review.
I don’t usually go to shows where the musicians perform multi-style music. Add lyrics from a completely different song,…well, it’s a challenge to review.
First I had to figure out which song they were playing based on the lyrics and then which style of music they’re playing it in. It was the second part that I found the most challenging. Was it Ragtime or Dixieland? A Waltz or a Ballad? The terminology completely threw me for a loop. I just didn’t know, so I probably won’t include a lot of comment about the styles in this review. Sorry, I’m just not there yet.
What I did know though, was that most of the songs sounded nothing like their former selves. Some of them were unrecognizable, like they were originally made this way. This is a testament to Scott Bradlee’s phenomenal arranging abilities.
Most of the time the songs were so well arranged that I had to quickly recite the lyrics in my head to get to the chorus, so I’d know which tune they were performing. Definitely a challenge, but once I figured it out, I enjoyed sitting back and watching this completely new song unfold.
Ace Burpee introduced PMJ with his usual, “I emcee every event in the city so I’m super comfortable on this stage” style. You can’t help but stop what you’re doing to listen to him, he’s really perfected it.
The band and host/vocalist, Drue Davis came out and introduced Sara Niemietz who sang a re-worked “I Will Survive” and the party kicked in full gear.
Vocalist, Brielle Von Vugel sang a sultry version of Selena Gomez’ “Same Old Love” and then Drue introduced Maiya Sykes and warned us that we’d get goosebumps when we heard her voice. That’s music to my ears… She sang Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy” all in one breath. Okay, maybe she took two breaths. But it was fast and all over the scale. Most impressive…but I didn’t get goosebumps.
Drue’s performance of Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me” made me laugh out loud and might go down as the happiest Nickelback song of all time.
Sara sang Outkast’s “Hey Ya” and it was good, I still prefer Obadiah Parker’s version.
Maiya’s powerful voice shone in Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back In Anger”. She delivered a passionate performance as the band performed it as a waltz…ballad…no wait…New Orleans Blues style. Yes, let’s go with that. Either way, I loved the addition of the clarinet.
Casey Abrams dove into the ridiculous with his over the top performance of “What Is Love”. At one point, he ran backstage, grabbed handfuls of flowers and threw them into the audience. Then he ran up and down the isles throwing flowers, jumped on the stage, landed on his stomach, did the worm, then Sara and Brielle grabbed his limbs and swung him around on the stage floor. The song became softer and gradually became louder to the point where it was full mayhem. Crazy, ridiculous and fun all at the same time.
After intermission, Arissa Lee tap danced to a variety of instrumental songs from artists like Stevie Wonder and Bruno Mars.
Sara’s “Bad Romance” had an almost vaudeville feel to it and Brielle’s voice in “All Of Me” reminded me a bit of Amy Winehouse.
Sara gave it her all during Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” but my favourite performance of the night went to Maiya’s rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep”. It was so powerful and emotional, I almost cried. She received a standing ovation and I wrote in my notebook “Best performance of the entire Jazz Fest?”
“Stacy’s Mom” and Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” (which sounded a lot like the original) ended the show, but not before one last photo with the band and the audience.
As I was walking to my car I could hear the crowd outside the Burt belting out Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” and really, what better way to end Jazz Fest than that?
I’m already looking forward to next year!
TicketMOMster is a Rock and Jazz-loving Mom; single-handedly keeping Ticketmaster alive in Winnipeg. Follow her musical journey here: www.facebook.com/TicketMOMs