Chris Struck | March 7, 2018
Sings Bruce on Christopher
The Duplex, NYC, February 24, 2018
Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes
Luckily, Lisa Viggiano found a kindred spirit in Bruce Springsteen, a fellow Jersey kid gone Northern California adult and occasional stage singer. While Springsteen lit up Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre, Viggiano tackled the details of his rise to fame during that same night in a very different part of town. With a tasteful bit of nostalgia, and the explicable desire to share the truly surprising number of coincidental similarities, Viggiano shared how Springsteen went from the halls of West Village’s past to a darling of the ’70s and ’80s with a “Hungry Heart” who was “Born to Run.”
Without fail and accompanied by the capable and ever-easy-going Matt Scharfglass on guitar, Viggiano executed the material efficiently. Her relaxed musical journey stepped a little outside the normal cabaret set list to bring rock ballad after rock ballad, and her subtle shifts from soft to rough vocalizations recalled that of the object of her musical tribute. While the order of the songs had more to do with how they fit into her own life, Viggiano did focus her well-researched storytelling on “The Boss.” Even if she included a shout out to talent scout John Hammond, in the form of a trio of songs done or covered by other iconic singers Hammond discovered, it was to highlight the remarkable talent Springsteen was and is, as well as the fact that even remarkable talents need champions.
She even pulled out a song Springsteen had written for “The King” in 1977 called “Fire,” singing in a little more Presley-esque style crooning, “You say you don’t like it/I know you’re a liar/ ‘Cause when we kiss/ Ooh, fire.”
Viggiano pulled off classic after classic from Springsteen’s repertoire and consistently impressed. My favorite was the 1987 hit “Tougher Than the Rest” where she seemed to really settle in on the line in the chorus, “If you’re rough and ready for love/ Honey, I’m tougher than the rest.” She also praised the use Springsteen made of his celebrity including the production of the album The Rising after the tragedy of 2001. It was a somber reminder, among many stories in Springsteen’s life, that nothing comes easy.
Viggiano felt a lot of connection with Springsteen and used that to motivate a story of two lives. Singing Springsteen without fail, she matched his rough and tumble style to perfection.
She consistently shows up in venues all over the nation. Look for her to appear again soon! Additional dates: May 4 at 7 pm at Don’t Tell Mama: Lisa Viggiano Sings Bruce on Restaurant Row; May 14 at 4 pm back at The Duplex Cabaret Theatre: Lisa Viggiano Sings Bruce on Christopher.