It was a freaky deaky night of surreal sights and sounds this past Wednesday, as Nicole Atkins and her band of plenty gathered before a boisterous collection of boozed up boys and girls for a record release soiree in honor of her latest album, Mondo Amore. The siren voiced Jersey girl would clean up for her party in formal fashion, striding the lip of the stage in the kind of billowy, black gown that would probably receive a nod of approval from Stevie Nicks.
The band she mingled amongst would favor a variety of clashing looks for their part; Russian fur hats, vintage tuxedo wear, gargantuan gold belts, and even a Regis Philbin inspired black on black shirt and tie sort of situation. Strangest of all was the grizzled old Sam Elliot lookalike - the star of the album's cover art - perched on the side of the stage, stealing swigs from a bottle and posing for photographic opportunities for a good portion of the night. Strange sights indeed at the Bowery Ballroom...
As for the music, Nicole and her band played a robust set of songs from the new album, sneaking in a few favs from Neptune City along the way as well. Despite the over the top nature of having so many musicians on the stage (at times, too many I think), the real treat of the evening was simple. Nicole's voice is dark, rosy, and complex, and on performances of "Vultures", "War Is Hell", and "The Tower", she thrives on a bevy of mysterious turns in melody and phrase. It's timeless.
If that's clich...well, it's Ok. Atkins is a musician of obvious talent. A rougher than should be professional journey (Check out this Times article for a little context) has kept her on the outskirts of popular music, but through a relentless quest, she's surfaced with a inspired set of songs in Mondo Amore and a decadent stage show that's worthy of its' craft and care.