Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Live review: Nicole Atkins w/ Arc Iris, Evening Muse (3/25/2014)

Posted By on Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 3:15 PM

Nicole Atkins, Arc Iris, Stephen Warwick
Evening Muse
March 25, 2014

Nicole Atkins

"I've been on the road for six weeks, but I knew I'd feel better once I got to Charlotte," Nicole Atkins told the crowded Evening Muse on March 25, 2014. With a quintet of musicians behind her, Atkins controlled the spotlight with her vocal strength and diversity.

Leaning heavily on her February-released album, Slow Phaser, Atkins' set also included a few fan favorites as she danced, sang and sweated the night away. Wearing a long black cloak, Atkins took the stage without a word and immediately launched into "Vultures," the lead track from 2011's Mondo Amore.

The former Charlotte resident acknowledged plenty of friends and even some family in the audience with smiles as she cruised through song after song in stellar form. From the upbeat disco-inflected "Girl You Look Amazing" to the old-school style of the ballad, "The Way It Is," Atkins showed her vocal range and power, climaxing with the encore as she made her way into the crowd to sing amongst her fans.

It was a winning conclusion to a musical trifecta that started out with a 30-minute solo set by Ancient Cities singer/guitarist Stephen Warwick and jaw-dropping set by Arc Iris as the "meat" in a musical sandwich.

Stephen Warwick

Warwick showcased a good bit of material from Ancient Cities upcoming album - the first time he's played the songs solo. Carried on the strength of Warwick's own vocal range and poetic songwriting style, the songs provided a strong opening for the acts to come.

As Arc Iris frontwoman Jocie Adams took the stage in her gold unitard and bright blue heels, the audience could only wonder what sound was about to come from the array of instruments on stage - cello, upright bass, keyboards, clarinet, drums, trumpet.

As the first notes warbled and hummed through the crowd, I feared that some art-house clusterfuck of noise was about to overtake our ears and leave us running for the streets. I'm glad I stuck around.

Arc Iris provided some of the most refreshing music I've heard in a while - a symphony of orchestral pop that blended elements of jazz, rock, folk and prog with Zappa-esque energy. It was a stunning showcase of material from the band's April 1-due self-titled debut, which is a slightly toned-down version of the songs performed.

The band provided sonic backdrops that teetered between cabaret, orchestral soundscapes, Laurel Canyon harmonies and frantic, frenzied swirls of emotion showing the strength of the group's songwriting and musicianship in its entirety. It's a far cry from the music Adams was a part of as a member of the indie-folk band The Low Anthem, but a sound that clearly suits her talents well.

Nicole Atkins

Nicole Atkins setlist
Who Killed the Moonlight?
What Do You Know?
Gasoline Bride
Cool People
Girl You Look Amazing
We Wait Too Long
The Way It Is
Red Ropes
Cool Enough
The Worst Hangover
Sin Song
It's Only Chemistry
Above As Below
The Tower

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