Friday, February 22, 2008

Neptune native delivers another amazing performance

photo by Neil Miller, Jr.

Surely the crowd at the Subterranean knew they were in for a treat tonight. Anyone who's heard Nicole Atkins's music before -- or even better, seen her live -- knows that seeing her on stage is truly seeing her in the ideal element for her music. Before we could be treated to her magnificent take on Americana and her sugar sweet melodies, though, an appetizer came in the form of Roadrunner Records' artists the Parlor Mob.

While a polar opposite from Atkins's style of music, the Parlor Mob did nothing but leave the audience in awe and amazement. Sounding like a mixture of everything from Led Zeppelin to the White Stripes, with even a little Pink Floyd and Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Polar Mob did all those names justice while blowing away all of their contemporaries trying their best to emulate the same artists. Their set was a continuous blast of in-your-face, balls-out rock music, and when it was all done and over with, they left the crowd asking for more. If you're interested -- which you should be -- their album will be digitally released March 11. If it's anything like their live show, your life will be incomplete without it.

After they exploded everyone's brains, Nicole Atkins and the Sea took the stage to put all the pieces of our brain matter back together. Each song she sang composed another paragraph of the love letter her music wrote to our ears. While her band is an incredibly tight and well-oiled machine, there's no denying that the highlight of the performance was Atkins's soulful voice. The melancholy of "The Way It Is" glistened with such an intense amount of soul, I actually had chills run through me a few times. Even on the crowd pleaser "Brooklyn's On Fire!", she managed to sing with an intensity found nowhere else in music today. While the show had many highlights -- hell, the whole show was a highlight in itself --the title track from her album, "Neptune City," was so tightly and flawlessly performed, displaying Atkins's voice at its best, it was impossible to resist closing my eyes and letting the music take me away.

Another highlight was the encore. Last time I saw her when she opened for the Raveonettes in 2007, she covered a Doors song. This time around outdid that many times over. The opening notes of Patti Smith's "Pissing In A River" rang through the venue and Atkins sang the opening line, "Pissing in a river, watching it rise . . ." and instantly, members of the crowd recognized the tune. Every cover I've heard Nicole Atkins perform has turned out as good as the original, and this was no exception.

At the end of the night, all she did was leave everyone wanting more. One thing's for sure: She will be back -- and when she takes the stage, no one will be disappointed. - Neil Miller, Jr.