Aug 17, 2007
V 35 Issue 33

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Where It's At
Josh Groban's long-awaited 'Awake' tour arrives at Key Arena; The Detroit Cobras giving Seattle fans a lethal injection
by Albert Rodriguez and Jessica Browning - SGN A&E Writers

Josh Groban w/ Angelique Kidjo
Saturday, August 18 - 8pm
Key Arena - $45-$95

It's been nine months since Josh Groban released his third and most critically praised work, the platinum-selling album Awake. Seattle area fans, including a significant percentage of Gay admirers, have waited impatiently since then for the international recording star to serenade them with new songs and old favorites. Actually, for local diehards the wait time to see Josh Groban in concert is three years. Not since 2004 at White River Amphitheatre has the Grammy-nominated artist stood in front of a microphone in the Puget Sound. Which is why tomorrow night's performance at Key Arena isn't just a concert, it's an occasion. And for truly devoted fans, it's a holiday that can only be celebrated with likeminded, crazed devotees.

Groban has been red-hot since breaking through in 2001 with his self-titled debut. But it was 2003's sophomore effort Closer that established Groban as a Gay household name. Containing the hits "You Raise Me Up" and "Remember When It Rained", coupled with grand scale numbers like "Oceano" and "Caruso", the album took Groban to global heights and expanded his live shows to large sports arenas and amphitheatres. In six years, the California-based twentysomething has become the most familiar name on the contemporary pop-classical scene, this side of Andrea Bocelli.

Besides having impeccable pipes, we can't omit the obvious about Josh Groban. He's super cute. At times, he sports a collegiate prep look with jeans, T-shirt and sneakers. Other times, he looks as if he's just wrapped up a photo shoot with GQ dressed in a tailored suit with matching tie, pressed button-down shirt, and shiny lace-up shoes. Whichever image he goes for, we're guaranteed an adorable boyish face, brown saucer-shaped eyes, tall and thin frame, and those irresistible corkscrew locks. Indeed, Groban is the complete package.

"Friends of Josh Groban" and "Grobanites" represent the highest tier of fan worship, and you'll see plenty of them scattered throughout Key Arena. Expect to hear selections primarily from Groban's two recent albums at the concert, and there should be lots of visuals to back up the wonderful sounds. At press time, tickets were still available. African-born diva Angelique Kidjo, who interviewed with Seattle Gay News earlier this year, opens the performance. Avoid the traffic and take the Monorail or Metro to the show. A. Rodriguez

Artist essentials: Closer featuring "Oceano" and Awake featuring "February Song". The Detroit Cobras
w/ Dan Sartain, Willowz
Tuesday, August 21 - 8pm
Neumo's - $12

In the realm of modern music, there's not exactly an abundance of memorable cover bands out there. In fact, cover bands rarely, if ever, pass the point of momentary novelty, let alone find their own niche and go on to be adored on there own merits. The Detroit Cobras are a breed apart. You can't exactly call them a cover band, although that's technically what they are; they own the forgotten 1950's and 1960's rock-soul gems that they perform so completely, it sounds as if they were born to play them.

Rachel Nagy, the tough but soulful bombshell of a frontwoman, is a force to be reckoned with. Paired up with guitarist Mary Ramirez, the two have been compared to bad girls on prom night; sweet bruiser chicks straight out of Cry Baby or any other John Waters tale. Kenny Tudrick (drums, guitar), Greg Cartwright (guitar, percussion) and Carol Schumacher (bass) let the two star ladies do their thing, while providing the fast-paced retro garage R&B stylings that make them so convincing both live and in the studio. Watching Nagy banter and flirt with her audience is always a pleasure. Rumored to be a former exotic dancer, she can purr like a kitten or snarl alongside your favorite rock and roll delinquents. When you listen to her belt out these classic songs, her raspy, throaty vocals come from so deep inside you wonder where a little thing like her got such an amazing set of pipes. She was born lucky I suppose, and watching her charm a roomful of people into a dancing, cheering party is half the experience.

Putting aside the magnetism that Rachel Nagy brings to her craft, the real distinction with the Cobras is the treasure trove of primitive rock and soul confections that they collectively unearth and breathe new life into. They make no bones about the fact that the best rock and soul has been done, and done better, than half of the uneducated throwbacks out there today. Being music lovers first and foremost, they found their favorite obscure 50's and 60's tracks, while amazing, were relatively unknown. The five-piece's newest release, playfully titled Tied & True, features songs originally performed by Bettye LaVette, Art Neville, The Flirtations and Irma Thomas. "As Long As I Have You" and "Leave My Kitten Alone" are standout tracks. These tunes are too good to be lost in time, so the Cobras dust them off and resurrect them. After all, didn't some of history's best bands grow to prominence covering Chuck Berry and Otis Redding?

If you find yourself in the mood for something retro modern with two hot ladies fronting a garage band to die for, the Detroit Cobras are not to be missed. They'll scratch that itch for listening to something timeless, bold, sexy, and incredibly fun, and they definitely know how to show you a good time. J. Browning

Artist essentials: The Detroit Cobras original tune "Hot Dog (Watch Me Eat)" is innocently cheeky perfection. Also, check out the booty-shaking "Nothing But A Heart Ache" from Tied & True.
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