Jun 10, 2023
By Andrew Poretz …
MAC Award-winning vocalist Goldie Dver opened her new show, Bridges, at Don’t Tell Mama this week. The show is partly in support of her debut album, the newly released Sweet Beginning. Goldie, a performer with expressive eyes and a warm, mezzo voice, has a long history in the New York cabaret scene.
For Bridges, Goldie was supported by a quartet of musical director and pianist Michael Roberts, guitarist/saxophonist Marc Daine, bassist John Miller, and drummer Chip M. Fabrizi. The show was directed by James Beaman.
The attractive, svelte star arrived to the stage wearing an all-black outfit with a glittery, sheer top. From a long chain that reached her waist, a pendant spelled “LOVE.”
Goldie opened with a medley of David Shire’s “What About Today” and the Three Dog Night classic, “Easy to Be Hard.” The latter was an interesting choice, a rarely covered 70s power ballad, and sung beautifully by Ms. Dver. A video montage showed photos of a 19-year-old, fresh-faced Goldie on the Brooklyn Bridge, filled with possibility. Though she “bridges” her early life as a performer in the late 60s and early 70s and today with music from those periods, the Brooklyn Bridge seemed to represent it metaphorically. “All these years later, that sense of possibility is alive and well,” Goldie asserted.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way. The show was marred from the outset by the band’s volume. A four-piece band can barely be contained in the Brick Room to begin with. With some power-rock arrangements, electric guitar and bass, and a hard-driving drummer who inexplicably used sticks instead of brushes, the band consistently overpowered the singer, often making her nearly inaudible despite having a fairly strong voice. Nearly every arrangement started soft enough for Goldie to shine, and then morphed into a cacophony. Later in the set, Goldie said the band was mad at her for asking them to play more softly. She should not have had to. With two shows remaining in this engagement, there is time for Mr. Roberts to correct this.
A swell medley of “My Personal Property” (Cy Coleman/Dorothy Fields) and “Sunday in New York” revealed guitarist Daine’s surprising secret weapon: an alto saxophone. A dynamic guitarist, Daine is equally adept on reeds.
Another surprising tune was “Spooky,” a huge hit for the band Classics IV in 1967. In this sexy blues arrangement, Daine alternated guitar and sax. Goldie made effective use of the deeper part of her voice.
Goldie took to a stool for a rhumba of “I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore” (Alan Jay Lerner/Frederick Loewe, with special lyrics by Michael Roberts). She used her expressive eyes to great advantage here, singing with humor and a kind of wryness that was quite appealing.
The star turned serious with a dramatic reading of “That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard it Should Be” (Carly Simon/Jacob Brackman), turning it into a soliloquy. Goldie followed this with a cute “I Said No” (Jule Styne/Frank Loesser, from the film The Sweater Girl), a call-and-response with the band.
Goldie is a fine storyteller, both in patter and in her approach to a lyric. She told a powerful story of the time when, as a very young performer in 1968, the show was stopped with the shocking announcement of Martin Luther King’s assassination. The story was intertwined with a very touching medley of Nat King Cole’s final hit, “L-O-V-E” (Bert Kaempfert/Milt Gabler) with The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love” and John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
Goldie and director Tanya Moberly came up for a special guest spot. Ms. Moberly is an excellent, powerful singer with a tough edge. She sang Carole King’s “Beautiful” before Goldie returned for a duet on Pink’s “Bridge of Light.”
Starting with just Mr. Miller’s bass, Goldie sang “The Rules of the Road” (Cy Coleman/Carolyn Leigh), which took a detour mid-song, briefly morphing into “Route 66” (Bobby Troup), with the band singing “Get your kicks… on Route… 66.” A clever mashup, indeed.
The last few songs of the night provided the biggest highlight. “This is Mine,” an original tune by Michael Roberts, is a very personal song based on thoughts Goldie expressed to him that he fashioned into lyrics. It was a powerful declaration. “This is my body…. My conviction,” she sang. Goldie’s commitment here was palpable.
Goldie sang “Sometimes” (Henry Mancini/Felice Mancini) with only Roberts’ accompaniment. Finally, without the band overwhelming her voice, she could fully express her most sensitive side. She sang it beautifully. Had she waited to the song’s completion to give the usual cabaret acknowledgements, it would have been the best song of the night.
There’s a fun surprise in the encore, an audience-participation reprise of “All You Need is Love,” that you’ll have to experience in person. It will have you walking out of Don’t Tell Mama with a big grin.
Goldie Dver: Bridges played on June 7, with additional performances on June 12 and 18, at Don’t Tell Mama, 343 West 46th Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenue (www.donttellmamanyc.com).
Photos: Conor Weiss