Live Review: Eliza Neals & the Narcotics at New Way Bar


Material: The “Detroit Diva” performs a number of originally penned tunes off her new album Breaking and Entering. Many of the songs have strong hooks and pop-flavored phrasing, but also relatable timeless qualities. “Detroit Drive” is a classic tale of hitting the open road and freedom. It is all slide guitar, tambourine and foot stomps from sideman Howard Glazer and Neals respectively. 
“Jekyll and a Hound” features mid-tempo and brooding rock and blues elements. Neals comes by the Motor City moniker honestly as one of her prime collaborators is none other than one of Motown Records’ first hit makers Barrett Strong.

Musicianship: It is easy to see that a major sense of pride for Neals is surrounding herself with some of the best players around. And she makes that clear by sharing the stage with solos, vocal spotlights and special guests. Decked out in a dazzling gold dress and a monumental voice to match, there is no question who’s the star. But, perhaps, the blonde chanteuse’s greatest gift is her ability to engage her players and get their best performances; feeding soulful keyboard lines to her lead guitarist, harmonizing seamlessly with backing vocalist Kymberli Wright or mixing it up with drummer Gabe Gonzalez.

Performance: Despite minor technical difficulties, Neals delivered two solid sets of high energy soul-drenched rocking blues.
 A consummate show person, she kept an unencumbered natural dialogue rolling with the capacity crowd, communicated seemingly “on the fly” changes with the band and effortlessly kept the dead spots to a minimum. From her wardrobe to her vocal dexterity and range, Neals knocked it out of the park. Conversely, her visual dynamism could have been a little more evenly matched by the band overall, with the exception of Glazer’s Hendrix-like theatrics.

Summary: Eliza Neals brings a positive spirit and vitality to her performance that breaks down barriers between the band and the audience. She really works a room and takes one on a journey. There is an ebb and flow that is pervasive throughout her material. Ballads, blues, scorching rock, soul-funk grooves; Neals delivers at every turn and gives the crowd their money’s worth.

– Eric A. Harabadian