For the first night of her tour and hot on the heels of her latest release, Blood To Bone, New Zealand’s Gin Wigmore hit Cambridge’s it-was-so-close-to-being-sold-out-that-I’m-calling-it-sold-out Sinclair, with her perpetually on-point band, scorching the stage right from the first lick of “New Rush.” Wigmore’s band is absolutely on point – the perfect backdrop to her equally fragile and ferocious lyrics – accompanying her as our tour guides on this expedition through the impeccable world of Gin. Performing a larger part of Blood to Bone’s stellar tracks, yet sprinkled with previous album nuggets “Kill of the Night,” “Hey Ho,” and “Man Like That,” Wigmore captivated – glowing and carefree, growling and purring, shimmying across the stage, joyful and proud – clearly delighted to be there.
Gin has a beguiling and ferocious stage presence – Wigmore’s unique voice and performance are bursting with love and a true passion, grateful for every moment on stage. There’s a beautiful old school tinge to her sound, bringing names like Stevie Nicks, Amy Winehouse, Etta James, and Janis Joplin to mind. However influenced, Wigmore isn’t to be limited to one genre, which is a huge part of what makes her all the more appealing. It hovers around smart and brazen soul-rock-folk, if you must have some genre frame of reference.
Gin Wigmore is captivating and magical; and Gin Wigmore’s band are the sublime magician’s assistants that complete the show (sans revealing costume, but you’re welcome for that Halloween idea, guys). Playing off of each other, bringing unparalleled energy and skills to the stage, these guys clearly enjoy every second. The five men in black – Dave Goodison and John Schreffler on guitars; Steve Padin on drums; Rocco Dellaneve on keys; Joey Secchiaroli on bass – contributing to the fiery, aural excellence, nearly rocked the doors off the hinges of The Sinclair. Tough to choose just one favorite (or even ten) of the night, the band blasted out catchy “New Rush” and “Written in the Water,” keeping the whole place on their toes. And just to solidify the unity of six beautiful souls shining on stage, they sealed this musical love letter with a kiss of perfection in the form of an a cappella version of “I Will Love You,” which brought down the house (and a few tears with it).
Selling out at least half of the ten-stop US tour thus far, with one UK gig already being venue-upgraded due to not-surprising high ticket demand, the zeal for Wigmore is undoubtedly on a swift path to a long-running fever pitch. With her two previous albums having gone platinum in New Zealand, there’s no question it’s just a matter of time before Blood to Bone joins them. The evolution of Gin has brought us here today to this performance and to this album, teeming with raw, emotional lyrics. Intense and witty; sassy and bold; delicate yet tough-as-nails; this featherweight is a vocal heavyweight and absolutely, without a doubt, played one of the best shows I’ve seen in years. There is nothing better than expecting greatness at a show and an artist destroying those expectations by delivering a truly haunting and staggeringly divine performance.
Love. That is my one word review of JOHNNYSWIM‘s Christmas show at The Sinclair.
Not much more needs to be said regarding the gorgeous husband-and-wife duo of Amanda Sudano Ramirez and Abner Ramirez; however, I shall elaborate. Radiant, inspiring, and downright flawless, on the final night of their holiday tour Sudano and Ramirez had the sold-out crowd in the palm of their hands through the last moment of the show. Steering us through their set – amidst glances at each other only the most amorous can imagine – of the most splendid combination of holiday and JOHNNYSWIM tunes – and JOHNNYSWIM holiday tunes – the two bantered and beamed at each other throughout; it was difficult to tell who was glowing more from the anticipated birth of their son. Playing their genre-crossing folk-pop, it’s nearly impossible to find any other artists to compare, despite being backed by a full band. JOHNNYSWIM touched on all of their releases, effortlessly performing songs such as “Diamonds,” “A Million Years,” “Take the World,” and my personal favorite “You and I,” perfectly harmonized while melting into each other. A band I, myself, discovered through the magic of a brief appearance on Linda Perry’s VH1 show “Make or Break” (and Perry’s mind-blowing ability to select hit-makers within five minutes of viewing them), JOHNNYSWIM exudes a presence of unparalleled positivity, dedicating their song “Take the World” to the couples in the audience; making it clear why they so frequently get asked to perform at weddings.
In case their words and presence weren’t inspiring enough, humanitarians Sudano and Ramirez discussed their affiliation with Food for the Hungry (http://fh.org/), an organization serving the poor globally, specializing in short-term emergency relief and long-term work to end world hunger. The band took a short fifteen-minute intermission allowing those in attendance to visit the merch booth and sponsor a child in need anywhere in the world; on top of the band’s existing donations to non-profit Visiting Orphans (http://www.visitingorphans.org/) of 100% of each sale of their song “Hallelujah.”
With an uncanny ability to draw in even the most eclectic of crowds, there is no doubt that uber-charismatic Sudano and Ramirez will be enchanting for generations to come – it makes those watching from afar anxious for their next act. Any adjective imaginable pales in comparison to the feeling of being in an intimate venue with this pair. While showing a genuine appreciation you don’t often see, JOHNNYSWIM were welcoming, warm, and truly dazzling, leaving the crowd to venture out into the chilly night, blissful and full of love.
Photos from the evening can be seen below:
Not long after “On How Life Is” was released I saw Macy Gray in Upstate New York and was blown away – Friday night at The Sinclair presented a second opportunity to see her and she undeniably did not disappoint on this 14th anniversary tour of her debut album. Gray hit the stage (after stellar opener Shea Rose) to a nearly sold-out room and most certainly brought her A-game – along with her bling. No, really – I mean bling – glitter eyeshadow; sequined dress; diamond mic stand; gigantic lustrous rings, necklace, earrings, and bracelets; and a massive, flowing black feather boa – Gray was a disco ball of musical magnificence. Even the band was designed to shine, with each of them wearing a tie lit up with white lights (think: white-lit Christmas tree meets necktie).
Right out of the gate she hit us with “Why Didn’t You Call Me” and covered a total of ten out of eleven tracks off of “On How Life Is” (including my personal favorite, the catchy “I’ve Committed Murder”) – she even threw in a couple of numbers from her other albums to fill out a perfect, robust set. Approximately a third of the way through the night, Gray disappeared for a few moments only to return in a bold red, white, and black dress (sadly, sans boa) to wrap up with her hit, “I Try,” a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep,” and finish with “The Letter.” Gray was just as dynamic as when I saw her fourteen years ago – commanding the stage from one side to the next, while chatting up the crowd (or “sexy people,” as was Macy’s choice of words), the whole time not missing a note. By the end of her set, the stage was scattered with feathers from the aforementioned boa, worked off in a night of nostalgia made to feel as fresh as the day it was made.