Scott Bradlee’s Post-modern Jukebox: The Opera House, 18 October
I’ve been a big fan of Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox for years. Their soulful jazz/swing covers of pop hits is just the right way to help me know what’s popular with the kids these days, but without having to actually listen to them in their modern renditions.
I missed their show last year and I was gutted, but then this year I saw they were coming back! And there was no way I was missing them again. I even flew down from Auckland where I’d been working just so I could make the show.
My date and I arrived a few minutes late thanks to parking woes and we stumbled in to an upbeat version of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On which set the tone for a night of fun and some of the tightest musicianship I’ve seen live.
Former American Idol alumni Casey Abrams was the MC for the night, introducing us to the band and to each singer as they came out, as well as lending his voice to a few numbers himself, and his infectious rock attitude and party-at-all-costs tone meant the crowd was kept in high spirits throughout the 2 1/2 hour show.
The PMJ format is pretty basic, take a pop song, jazz it up, perform it in the style of the era and voila. This tour is the “Welcome to the Twenties 2.0” tour, an acknowledgement of the beginning of the 2020s while a nod to the 1920s where some of the musical stylings of the band would fit right in.
There was a halftime break during which my date and I discussed how incredible the live musicians were. When we go see live acts we expect to hear good quality bands, but this was on a whole other level. The drumming, piano, bass, trombone and woodwinds were so tight, so brilliantly put together that it was like listening to a recording, something you don’t get to experience a lot in a live setting.
They also added a tap dancing component which I’m not usually a fan of, but the exuberance that Demi Remick put on, and the talent she clearly has in spades made it a really fun palate cleanser between songs – and her tap dance to the Super Mario themes was magical.
When we first arrived during My Heart Will Go On, there was a man in his 60s just sitting across from me who lent over to his family shouting “I LOVE THIS ALREADY”, and he captured the mood of the audience for the duration of the show.
There were some songs I didn’t recognise, but it didn’t matter, because the band was having so much fun on stage that the fun spread infectiously throughout the audience, like the measles outbreak. But with music and enjoyment instead of spots and illness.
I try to include some kind of criticism or suggestion in my reviews of live shows but there was really nothing to suggest, maybe drop Radiohead’s Creep? It’s been covered infinity times now. But Casey’s version of it was lovely and was perhaps the best use of his voice style – he is definitely more of a rocker than a crooner.
The show reached its climax with all singers coming on stage to perform a jazzed up version of Haddaway’s What Is Love that had the crowd on its feet, clapping, dancing, singing.
I’m still gutted I missed last year’s show, but I’m absolutely delighted that I saw this year’s . Because Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox is just an utter joy and fiesta of fun. If they come back again next year I’ll definitely be going along. And any future years after that.