Four Concerts in Seven Days: Postmodern Jukebox


Postmodern Jukebox North American Cast

Postmodern Jukebox North American Cast

Because random stuff happens, WC wound up attending four concerts in a memorable seven day stretch earlier this month. You can read WC’s review of Jake Shimabukuro’s show, and WC’s time with Jimmy Bufffett, both posted earlier. But in a further demonstration of the Magpie Principle, we turn now to the third concert, Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, which, with considerable understatement, is something different.

There are two sorts of genius on display at any Postmodern Jukebox show: Scott Bradlee’s extremely impressive talents as an arranger, and the equally impressive talent of the ensemble of musicians who perform the shows. Both were on full display at the Egyptian Theater – probably WC’s favorite Boise venue – on Friday night.

If you haven’t heard of PMJ, they take pop hits and recast them in a different way. Prince’s “Purple Rain” as a gospel song. “My Heart Will Go On” from the movie “Titanic” as a doo-wop number. And their nearly official theme song, “All About That Bass,” done in pretty much any way you can imagine. 20’s jazz. Blues. Torch songs. But PMJ is more than a music; it’s a visual experience and a quintessential live act. And the percussion section includes a tap dancer.

Postmodern Jukebox at the Egyptian Theater, Boise (Photo by Mrs. WC)

Postmodern Jukebox at the Egyptian Theater, Boise (Photo by Mrs. WC)

PMJ consists of more than 50 artists now, traveling in smaller troupes, around the world. In Boise, a pianist, bassist, electric guitarist, drummer, saxophonist and trombonist (a Boise stand-in for the regular artist) backed four vocalists in a tour de force of PMJ treatments of pop music. WC wants to emphasize that this isn’t a gimmick. These are terrific musicians and singers, who can perform in an amazing, astonishing variety of styles. Lady Gaga as hot jazz, followed by Taylor Swift done in gospel, followed by Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” done as 30’s jazz. All performed with wonderful costumes and infectious enthusiasm.

Videos are a poor substitute for the live show, but here’s a sample:

PMJ is the epitome of a live act. If you get the chance, you should see them. Wonderful music. Wonderful fun.

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