I went to hear Amanda McBroom perform at the Northridge United Methodist Church this past weekend.
I still have to take a moment to pause and sigh a happy sigh, as it was just such a lovely experience.
The church was an airy and hospitable place. The folks in charge of greeting concertgoers were kind and gracious. My friend and I slid into a pew. “We’re the youngest people here,” she said. It was mostly true — there were a lot of silvery heads in the audience. But everyone was buzzing with excitement and anticipation. There was a warm introduction from an actor friend, testifying to McBroom’s ability to make him weep repeatedly: “You are about to hear a voice that will transport you.” And then, without further ado, the back doors of the sanctuary swung open and Amanda came down the aisle, full of joie de vivre and beauty. A sensuous, animated presence with smartly coiffed hair sailed up the steps and took the stage in a flattering, sparkly ensemble. She grabbed the mic, said a few words, and began the show.
These days it’s not often you see someone perform with such an absolute connection with the audience. Amanda swept up the audience immediately, with a combination of transparency, spontaneity and musical clarity that was breathtaking. Her pronunciation and diction were so clear, you couldn’t help but be present to what she was doing. Here was a woman totally in command of herself and the audience, fully aware of her ability to engage us at every moment of the performance. There was not a single second or syllable wasted.
Throughout the show there was wry commentary about aging and the gravitational disadvantages therein, but Amanda was sexy, generous, animated, and smacking with wit and humor. She sang and shared personal stories, acting out the roles of the protagonists of her songs without holding anything back. Her total commitment to performance, to the embodiment of feeling and situations, made me feel a little uncomfortable, as much as I found it fascinating and awesome. The emotion was theatrical and raw; it was artifice, it was real. The effect was difficult to categorize, and I wondered if other members of the audience understood it intuitively, instinctively.
The pianist and upright bass player accompanied McBroom’s two sets tastefully, and somehow managed to match her astounding energy. The pianist, Michele Brourman, is McBroom’s longtime partner in composition, and her playing was a dynamic complement to the singer’s expressive gestures. It was fun to watch her leaning in and whipping back from the piano keys throughout the show.
Amanda performed original works during the first half of the show and the works of Jacques Brel after the intermission, placing the focus on her new CD of Brel’s works. It was a night of personal story-telling and sensitivity to lyric and language, delivered to a rapt audience by a consummate performer.
— Alanna Lin
Community reviewer for Lauri’s List