Johnette Napolitano concert review
Johnette Napolitano is best known as the singer of the band Concrete Blonde. What most people don’t know is that Napolitano writes solo material and is also an author. This acoustic solo show was highlighted by passages from her book Rough Mix. Napolitano emerged onstage in a fetchingly understated casual look and was lit with red and blue lights in front of a backdrop that pictured the desert with the word ‘Hollywood’ written on the bottom. The intimate atmosphere of the tavern of the Beachland Ballroom was perfect for Napolitano and her guitar. The crowd soon hushed and she opened her set with the song “Lady Day” and it became immediately apparent that Napolitano had not lost her voice at all; in fact, her voice seemed to get more powerful and moving with age. In between songs Napolitano kept up her banter with the audience by telling anecdotes and reading poetry and stories from Rough Mix.
The set was surprisingly short on Concrete Blonde songs as it became clear that this was more a highlight of her solo songs as well as a book tour. A telling sign was that there were no t-shirts or other merchandise normally available at a concert, but there were only copies of her book and tote bags for purchase. A highlight of the set was her solo song entitled “Take Me Home” in which she threw in a clever chorus of Any Winehouse’s song “Rehab.” She followed up with the popular Concrete Blonde songs “I Don’t Need a Hero” and “Mexican Moon.” Staring at the ceiling as she sat behind thick black spectacles and sipped red wine, her voice was haunting and powerful. The intimate venue coupled with the singularity of the show being just Napolitano and her guitar added a depth and subtlety to the material, both sung and spoken. She spoke also of her study of flamenco in Spain and her passion for the artformand treated the audience to an a capella song in Spanish to which she provided her own percussion with her hands. The iconic Concrete Blonde song “Joey” closed out the set and left the audience wanting more. Alas, Napolitano did not appear for an encore, butthe power in her voice and words echoed in the ears of the audience for the rest of the night.