| return to cabaret | go to entry page | | go to other departments |
Joey Arias Is With You Now
"Joey Arias Is With You Now”
The otherworldly sensationalist Joey Arias is an avid experimentalist
both off stage and off. I have been told – and my sources
do not lie – that the daring chanteuse is up for just about
anything. And if there is anything that he has not tried yet, well,
rest assured, one way or another, Arias will get around to it, and
if you are really lucky he may get around to you too. Just keep
Though Arias was born a star, a small one let’s
say, it has taken him three decades of hard work and working hard
to reach supernova status. Like many “in your face and tell
it like it is” downtown luminaries who got their start in lower
Manhattan – Penny Arcade, Chris Tanner, and Agosto Machado come
quickly to mind – Arias started off small, unknown, and totally
ballsy. And not unlike the above performers he has been honing his
act around the world for some thirty plus years.
Arias, back at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theatre by popular demand, wearing his customary, sheer, tight-fitting, all black outfit complete with 7 inch spiked heels, and sexy garters, looking more dominatrix than drag, held his die-hard audience in the palm of his hands for some 90 minutes. Pulling out all stops on stage with his back up band, as well as in the audience where he smooched with a couple of patrons and asked outrageously provocative questions. As usual, he took no prisoners.
While the audience hung on his every word, indeed, egged him on, it was his wide range of singing styles that sent them over the moon. His low notes, high notes, notes that only dogs could hear, bluesy moaning, jazzy scatting, punk rock screams, yelps, and occasional howls held them in awe. Most exciting was Arias’ “dueling” with the way out guitarist Brandon Seabrook where he met every ultra high note that Seabrook whipped out on his electric guitar. I couldn’t help but think of the astonishing “duets” between singer Cleo Lane who was able to hit a G above high C and her alto sax playing husband, the late John Dankworth.
Making a guest appearance was Arias’ long time friend, a low-keyed Ann Magnuson who sang a song that she had written and offered some conventional patter. Knowing the crowd she also threw in some anti Trump words and sang a duet with Arias. While this interlude was tolerated, I mean she is Joey’s dear friend which he continued to mention a dozen times, many of us – dare I say all – were chopping at the bit waiting for Joey to get back to singing.
And back to singing he got none too soon. It was here, with his boffo back up band, consisting of musical director Ben Allison on the base, Steve Cardenas and Brandon Seabrook on the guitar and Allan Mednard on the drums, that Arias’ extraordinary vocal calisthenics showed its amazing face. With each song arranged to fit him like a glove he sang House of the Rising Sun which tells of a life gone wrong in New Orleans, Dylan’s Lay Lady Lay, Phil Spector’s Be My Baby, first recorded by the Ronettes in 1965, Cream’s White Room (1968), and Good Bless The Child in which Arias sang as close to Billie Holiday’s phrasing as he could get.
At the end of the evening, after one encore –
the crowd did not want him to leave the stage – he asked the
audience, “Do you want me to come back to Joe’s Pub? For
a full two minutes all you could hear, from audience and wait staff
alike, was Yes, Yes, Yes. So, God Willing, and if the creek don’t
rise, Arias will be returning, again by popular demand, and we will
all be waiting.
| home | reviews | cue-to-cue | discounts | welcome |
| museums | NYTW mail | recordings | coupons | publications | classified |