- CHARITY BENEFIT
Reviewed by: Joel Benjamin
August 26th, 2012
Nikkieli DeMone is a big man with an outsized voice and personality, almost too much for the Metropolitan Room to contain. With the musical support of Jonathon Lynch, DeMone sang a program called My Own Space which combined songs about the various stages of love and many autobiographical tidbits.
DeMone began with the Lloyd Webber/Black/Hart anthem “Love Changes Everything” introducing us to his strong baritone. His voice made it clear that he believed the title of the song. From Kander & Ebb he sang “She’s a Woman,” a tender description of an object of love.
He spoke of meeting his wife, illustrating his delight with “She Touched Me” from Drat, the Cat, a long forgotten 1965 musical written by Milton Schafer (music) and Ira Levin (lyrics). The song, and DeMone’s tender rendition, made his emotions crystal clear.
Another Kander & Ebb song, “My Own Space,” was used to illustrate the beginning of what he called “entropy,” or the breakdown of a relationship, enforced by two Fats Waller songs, “That Ain’t Right” and “You’re Mean to Me” (a tribute to the delicious and much-missed Nell Carter).
He spoke of toxic relationships, hijacking the piano from Mr. Lynch to sing “I Who Have Nothing” (Danida/Leiber & Stoller) extolling Gladys Knight’s version which inspired him. It was a slow wail of pain. He was almost too over the top in an Oleta Adams song which I think is called “Everything Must Change,” about doing foolish things like not communicating.
After humorously chiding an audience member for liking Barry Manilow, DeMone sang “I Made It Through the Rain,” taking a conversational tone with this song.
DeMone spoke of his children in loving terms. He also revealed that he is a Pastor, which kind of explains his expansive, sermon-like style. He can turn any song into a “message.”
He finished up with Jason Robert Brown’s “Someone to Fall Back On,” an odd love song that admits that love is shown in mundane ways, not in being a knight in shining armor.
Nikkieli DeMone really doesn’t need a microphone. In fact the mic distorted his rich voice at times making for some harsh, hard-edged sounds. He acts his songs with his heart on his sleeve and the fact that the proceeds of this concert were destined for a good cause was just an added fillip to admire DeMone even more.
Metropolitan Room 212-206-0440 or www.metropolitanroom.com