We knew there was something amiss when we drove down Main Street towards downtown Asbury Park and The Saint. Strong storms were moving through Monmouth County and we heard lots of sirens and saw lots of flashing lights. Then we noticed a few streets lights out. Parking on Main Street, instead of the familiar green and red neon window lights outside the venue we saw darkness. People were standing around waiting to hear some information. We were really looking forward to this show so our hearts sank as we wondered if the show would have to be cancelled.
That is when Saint owner Scott Stamper and his awesome staff sprang into action. They brought out candles, chairs and water bottles. Most surprising, they wheeled a piano outside to the sidewalk and Adam Weiner from Low Cut Connie graciously entertained the growing crowd on the corner with a variety of songs. He even took requests. Just when we were starting to think all hope was lost the lights came on! A cheer erupted on the corner of Main and Monroe. Nicole Atkins came out and did a duet with Adam to celebrate the power being restored. If someone asks me to characterize the spirit of Asbury Park, its artists and its people this is the night I am going to describe.
Once inside, it only took about 15 minutes to get the show going since they had power early during load in.
Cherry Hill native Weiner, fresh from his sidewalk performance, opened the show with his brand of rocking piano tunes with a touch of humor. OK, more than a touch. Channeling Jerry Lee Lewis he leapt up on the piano bench a few times while never missing a beat on the keys. One can’t help but smile along with him as he played upbeat songs like “(No More) Wet T-Shirt Contests” and “Shit, Shower & Shave” which he joked was rejected by Sesame Street. Very entertaining stuff.
Nicole Atkins followed and thrilled the packed house with songs from her recent album Slow Phaser as well as from earlier work. The crowd was very quiet as Atkins is so mesmerizing on stage in her flowing white dress and powerful, soulful voice. Her vocal range is truly incredible. A wonderful performer, whether she was standing at the mike crooning, prowling the stage singing or jumping up and down in time with the music all eyes were transfixed on her. She even sang the end of “The Worst Hangover” while lying prone on the stage.
David James Rosen of Parlor Mob/Black Jesuses fame along with drummer Chris Donofrio backed her up and really complemented Nicole’s strong voice up front. Rosen and Donofrio can play with subtlety during slower numbers but can crank it up as well. Rosen’s guitar stance and stage jumps are nearly as transfixing as Atkins’. The band left the stage after a soaring version of “The Tower” but Nicole came back and strapped on a guitar for a solo encore. We saw Atkins twice earlier this summer opening for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds but seeing her in the intimate setting of The Saint was special.
The Glycerine Queens closed the night with songs from their self-titled EP, a Led Zeppelin cover and a new tune. Nicole Atkins and her husband produced their amazing EP and the songs sounded great live. We were quite impressed by the band. Guitarist and vocalist Cynthia Rittenbach took the stage in dark shades and exuded both cool and edge, at times jumping on the small riser right in front of the stage. Guitarist Kayla Smith impressed the crowd with her solos and the rhythm section of bassist Kayla Cervone and drummer Jen Amoscato kept a steady beat. Can’t wait to hear more from them.
The concert was the third of The Saint’s 20th Anniversary Celebration Series.
Check out more of the pictures from our evening with a weather-related acoustic opener and a great night of rock once the power was restored:
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