Singer Lisa Viggiano lives in New Jersey, so it is de rigueur that she be a Bruce Springsteen fan. But she feels a closer kinship to “the boss” than many others do, a kinship she celebrates in her new show, Lisa Viggiano Sings Bruce. She enlists the aid of Matt Scharfglass on guitar; he is usually her bassist, but he proves to be as accomplished on guitar and offers great support throughout.
Viggiano jumped feet first into “The River.” Setting up the song with some revealing biographical information, she strikes just the right balance of energy and pathos. Taking a break from Springsteen, she then presents a tribute to John Hammond, the man responsible for “discovering” Bruce as well as Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, and many others. The singer knocks each one of these selections out of the park and left me hoping for a Hammond tribute show in her future. “Sing, Sing, Sing” (Louis Prima) lets her swing like crazy. “Good Morning Heartache” (Irene Higginbotham, Ervin Drake, Dan Fisher) shows an unusually mature and sophisticated side of her vocals that was a special delight. “Think” (Franklin, Teddy White) cooks with all the energy missing from the earlier numbers. Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” is filled with warmth and heart.
The remaining Springsteen songs, barring a few missteps, stay on this high plateau. “Fire” is great fun, with a sexy trip into the audience. “The Wrestler” (from the film of the same name) is one of the discoveries of the set and a real find. A spirited and exciting “Mary’s Place” really works, and it leads into a revelatory “Thunder Road,” which lives and breathes and goes deeper into the story than other versions I’ve heard. It’s a memorable closer.
Tanya Moberly makes good use of the unusual voice/guitar set up on stage (helped by Lisa Moss’s lights).
A singer this good is always worth a visit, and there are many pleasures to be had. And I will continue to dream of that John Hammond show!
Lisa Viggiano Sings Bruce
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