Review by Kitty Drexel
A special thank you to Joe Gehring for securing tickets to the event and a private tour of The Players (which was super cool).
(New York, NY) Over the weekend, I had the privilege of catching one of two intimate concerts performed by Alice Ripley at The Players social club in NYC. They are the first in a new series called “Live From 16 Gramercy Park.” Ms. Ripley sang a fine set of her own songs and performed, to great applause, a set of musical theatre repertoire. With a 10:30PM start time, It was a glorious (and late) night.
Alice Ripley has the kind of vocal timbre that one would know anywhere. Her’s is a powerful instrument delivered in a distinctly expressive style. She performed the first 3/4 of the concert accompanying herself on guitar. Notable pieces from her portfolio included “A Light in the Dark,” “Counting Sheep” (from Ripley), “Wicked Torch” (from Outtasite), and several selections from her 2001 album Everything’s Fine, among others. “She Keeps Her Love Away” was performed with gusto. Its light twang and casual sadness could be compared to “She Used to Be Mine” by Sara Bareilles. “President Hillary” was a witty hypothetical number written before this election cycle. In it, Ripley ponders what it would be like to have a woman president (paid vacation days!) in a world that largely ignores humanity’s need for sympathy. Her albums are available here.
Ripley’s lyrics aren’t as strong as her compositional skills. We are pulled into her songs by her charisma but her word choice will tear us out of it. It’s clear that she feels the music deeply when she performs. Her passion is enough to sustain a performance but a more sensitive audience member may be puzzled by her word choices. Lyrics will be less of an issue for those more acquainted with her songwriting style.
The last ¼ of the concert was comprised of favorites from Ripley’s career. “The Reminder Song” by Shaina Taub is a fun albeit truthful ditty about knowing who your friends are. “As If We Never Said Goodbye” is sung by Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. Ripley gave ALW new depths. Her last number for the night was “I Miss The Mountains.” There’s nothing like hearing her sing this song live. I feel like a better performer for having done so. This whole set was a rare treat, a reminder as to why performers do the things we do.
The Players is a comfortable venue in reds, brown and black leathers, tile and wood paneling. It’s more smoking room than concert hall. The stage boasts a baby grand piano, lighting and an acceptable sound system. Ripley sang gorgeously but was over mic-ed for such a small place. She was in shadow when she wasn’t onstage.
Readers please note that this concert is the first in a new concert series. Unfortunately, concerts are for members and their guests only. Interested parties may consider joining or making a special friend in order to attend. Those interested in membership should click here. An FYI for persons interested in joining the club. The greater majority of people present on this night as members and guests were white. I could count on one hand no-white attendees. Do with that information what you will.