Monday, March 4, 2013

Serena Ryder

Serena Ryder is a fireplug ready to go off.  At her recent concert at the Imperial Theatre in Saint John, NB she delivered life like a gospel preacher before the rapture - no small feat in that venerable space - even getting some dancing in the aisles.

I first saw Serena in concert in Halifax at St. Matthew's Church in November of 2009 and have been extolling her abilities ever since.

Amid the apprehension of an impending storm, Holly and I sat down in the new Ta-Ke Sushi on King Street needing some respite from an unforgiving winter.

"Is she like Sarah Harmer or will she move on the stage?" dance-girl Holly inquired.

"It'll be fun," I smirked back.

Satiated with yam and avocado makimono, miso soup, and green tea, we started, after a quick stop at the studio, on the slippery incline toward the Imperial, found some over-priced chocolate for dessert and were ushered to our eighth row middle seats.

Montreal born Danielle Duval showed her fearlessness taking the stage with only a guitar and her camera as she opened the concert with some songs from her album Of the Valley and tossed in a brilliantly brave cover of Grease's "You're the One that I Want" that was featured on the soundtrack for Californication.

Ryder chose the certain-hit "What I Wouldn't Do" to open the show and showed off the stuff her newest album, Harmony, is made of.  With polished repartee and a few on-stage local guests, she charmed the audience from start to finish, disporting her abilities with various guitars and a small fortress of drums.

And then there's her most-treasured instrument - her voice.  Her self-proclaimed idols - Etta James (At Last) and Nina Simone (anything she wanted) - had nothing on Serena's modulations, despite her recent troubles with "losing" this gift.

Her performances sound so much like her recordings I found myself looking for cues that would signal to me that she wasn't pulling a Beyonce, it's that good and no, she definitely wasn't.

Serena delivers a real show - the band, lighting, technical effects all combine with her vocalizations, intrumentations and dramatic costumes to showcase the smart, tribal, sorceress she has become.

Holly and I left the sermon with renewed spirits and looked out upon King Square to find the ground we expected to be white and nasty was still mostly bare.  It was a March miracle.

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