los angeles concerts niki j crawford

Live Review: Niki J Crawford at Mrs. Fish in Los Angeles, CA

Material: Niki J Crawford’s music is mainly funk but she teases you with R&B, reggae and rock, eventually ending back up at the funk in a good and creative way. “Rock Me Again” is a great song that intertwines bits of old-school and modern funk then meshes it into the main parts of the song, creating a unique blend. “Played” is another example of a song that starts out as a reggae tune and then you start to feel the groove. Bob Marley flashes across your mind and you think, “Yeah, cool!” The song changes lanes to an R&B feel only to swerve into the fast lane as we’re led through
a blistering solo in the style of Led Zeppelin and then nonchalantly fusing itself into the next song of the set.

Musicianship: Coles on bass and Gust on drums funked it up all night. Killen brings Latin flavor with his conga and other percussion that take the music to another dimension, not to mention exuding loads of energy that fuels the crowd. Rowell is good on the keys, but especially great on “I’ve Got Reasons.” During a solo he can go from soulful, tasteful chops to inflaming the ivories with swift accuracy. Great backup on the vocals by Lavell and Reed, who never miss a note and enjoys the set with professional and confident gusto. Last but certainly not least, Crawford’s voice is immaculate. Best set of pipes around. She croons like Lucille Bogan and belts it out like Tina Turner—with all the moves too.

Performance: After a Latin-infused drum-off, Gust kicked into a beat and Killen filled him in with high-energy, perfectly placed thwacks. Although the onslaught of the percussion section was very strong and robust, the opening song failed to capture the crowd’s enthusiasm. Crawford looked tired, laboring through the performance, but her vocals were on the money and she was trying to connect with the audience, which kept things interesting.

The small stage area confined the rest of the band, allowing little movement. Killen was a saving grace, animated behind his conga and toms while the background singers danced to the tune at hand. Hamilton went off on his guitar on two tunes, and that livened things up a bit, adding a different and appreciated new element to the songs.

Summary: Niki J Crawford and her distinctive band sounded great in this well-mixed room. Her vocals were pristine, as were the background vocals. Aside from looking a bit tired and worn out, Crawford sounded fantastic; soothing and smooth yet strong and powerful. All players added unique nuances to each song, elevating the group beyond the sum of its parts. Crawford should make a little better use of her talented musicians. They are unique in their inventiveness as Crawford blends old school with a modern feel. Though infused with rhythms inspired by the likes of Tito Puente and Maná, don’t be fooled—Niki J Crawford is about funk, funk and more funk.

The Players: Niki J Crawford, vocals; Stewart Killen, percussion; Mike Coles, bass; Taurus Hamilton, guitars; Scott Rowell, keys; Adam Gust, drums; DeeDee Lavell and Jonathon Reed, backing vocals.

Venue: Mrs. Fish
City: Los Angeles, CA
Contact: [email protected]
Web: NikiJCrawford.com

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