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Spencer Day debut impressive, spunky
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Spencer Day debut impressive, spunky

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Spencer Day
July 28
Dimitriou's Jazz Alley


This kid is going places. That's what went through my head several times as I sat at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley on Tuesday, watching Spencer Day perform in his Seattle headlining debut. And the long line of beaming autograph seekers after the show, one of whom said he was now hooked on this rising star, proves I wasn't the only person impressed with this jazz-pop wonder.

Day opened his set with "Till You Come to Me," the leadoff track from his forthcoming album Vagabond. His tall and slender frame was neatly tucked into a pair of black trousers, light gray shirt with matching tie, and a charcoal vest - his unpretentious style clearly matches his onstage persona; he's charming and witty without ever being sugary or over the top.

"Joe," a song that could easily find its way to adult contemporary radio, was rather delightful and featured stellar backup vocals by Crystal Monee Hall, who progressively gained her own cluster of followers as the concert went on. "Vagabond" included an inspirational undertone and hymn-like chorus, while a zippy cover of Marty Robbins' "Devil Woman" displayed a theatrical stage presence that Day also maintains in his talent arsenal - using his hands, hips and an irresistible grin, the young performer has the ability to feed the eyes and ears of his audience.

The night wasn't entirely flawless. "Arizona Blue," written as a lullaby for Day's younger brother, didn't quite work as a blues-pop number and eventually just sounded flat - I would've enjoyed it more as a straightforward pop ballad with a light string arrangement. Ditto for a very slow re-do of The Association's "Never My Love," introduced as a "standard" by the 31-year-old - it needed a boost of some kind, because it came across as depressing and sleepy.

But when Day dazzled, he really dazzled, primarily on the jazzy material, such as a terrifically entertaining performance of "I Got a Mind to Tell You" - perhaps the evening's best tune - or his semi-kitschy rendition of a new original called "Poor Marie," inspired by doomed French icon Marie Antoinette.

Led by former Seattle resident and incredible pianist Micah Hulscher, a full band supported Day for nearly the entire show. Each group member was young, dapper and surprisingly came experienced as both a recording and touring musician from various parts of the United States. Matt Aronoff, on bass, had a few minutes of the spotlight here and there, but with striking features and a solid build, all he needed to do was stand in place to get our attention. Equally attractive guitarist Yair Evnine also got snippets of opportunity to showcase his stuff, while drummer Matt Swindells hid the whole time behind backup vocalist Hall. She, more than anyone besides Day, wowed the larger-than-expected crowd with her soulful pipes, especially on a new collaboration that she and Day performed tentatively called "Good Love."

The 80-minute performance closed with a suave rendition of another Day original, "Movie of Your Life," introduced by the budding artist with a question to the audience, "If your life had been a movie, how much of it would you have watched?" This song, like several others, sounded as if they could be inserted into a future stage musical or theater-to-screen adaptation. There's a very Broadway-like quality that Day brings to the table, something I can't say about the Bubles or Cincottis of the pop-jazz world.

For a group of musicians who ordinarily don't play together and a lead performer making his headlining bow, I expected more glitches and, admittedly, underestimated the quality of the performance - but everything and everyone blended effortlessly, proving Day has that extra gift of being a great orchestrator under challenging circumstances as he continues to prep the release of his upcoming album.

What most impressed me about Spencer Day is not what he did, but how he did it - with great ease, total humility, and utter enjoyment. At times he giggled like a child at recess, or smiled with such pride and sincerity that he immediately convinces you there's no place he'd rather be than on stage. Part natural, part studied, and full of non-stop energy - he sang and boogied at a nearby pub after the show - here's a guy that wants it all, and appears to have it all.

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