LIVE: Ana Popovic @ Club Helsinki, 9/22/17

October 12th, 2017, 2:00 pm by Greg

Review by Steven Stock

A mere four months after her triumphant performance at Cohoes Music Hall, Serbian-born axe slinger Ana Popovic returned to Greater Nippertown, her band newly augmented with sax and trombone, for a tasty set at Hudson’s Club Helsinki. Although her repertoire still relied heavily on last year’s three-disc Trilogy, the horn section helped illuminate Popovic’s range and versatility, revealing her to be far more than just a pyrotechnic blues guitarist.

“Love You Tonight,” for instance, was a slick slice of up-tempo rhythm & blues, while the horns served to class up the gritty funk of “She Was a Doorman.” She seems increasingly confident in her vocals as well, as illustrated by a compelling version of the Tom Waits’ chestnut “New Coat of Paint” that also deployed the horns to good advantage.

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Of course, Popovic’s guitar playing was still the main attraction. The horn section left the stage altogether for an epic rendition of “Johnnie Ray.” While her core band of bass/drums/keyboards turned the heat down to just a simmer, Popovic unleashed a teasing flurry of notes that had the audience on the edge of their seats, some oohing and aahing, others whooping and hollering to express their appreciation. It was a bravura performance demonstrating her mastery of tension and release.

The horns returned for a fiery rendition of “If Tomorrow Was Today.” Albert King’s “Can’t You See What You’re Doing to Me” showcased the band’s strengths, a lengthy sax solo followed by a guitar/sax cutting session and finally a chance for the drummer to stretch out. “We’re gonna funk it up a little bit,” said a smiling Popovic before launching into “Show You How Strong You Are.” As at Cohoes Music Hall, the band finished with a nod to Jimi Hendrix in the form of “Crosstown Traffic,” which sounded even better this time thanks to additional seasoning from the sax and trombone.

ALSO READ:
LIVE: Ana Popovic @ Cohoes Music Hall, 5/23/17

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