The Past Becomes Present with the PMJ

Courtesy of Segerstrom Center

Courtesy of Segerstrom Center

In a complete stroke of genius, piano master and composer Scott Bradlee has done the impossible — he has made Iggy Azeala palatable. I will even go as far as to say enjoyable. How, you may ask? By covering the song in a 1920s flapper style, complete with a horn section, a double bass, a clarinet and even a tap-dance solo.

Bradlee and his band, the Postmodern Jukebox, made serious waves online with their YouTube channel, which features well-crafted, vintage-style covers of modern day hits filmed in what looks like someone’s living room.

In 2013, they gained a huge following and a lot of attention thanks to their doo-wop cover of Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” and their collaboration with Puddles the Clown on a cover of Lorde’s “Royals.”

Thanks to their well-deserved popularity, Scott Bradlee & the Postmodern Jukebox have announced their first tour, taking place primarily in the West Coast and Europe.

The Segerstrom was the perfect venue for such a band, whose infectious energy and big, lush sound filled the enormous concert hall with little effort.

Bradlee’s band is composed of rotating members and singers, and joining him that night were featured singers Cristina Gatti, Ariana Savalas, Broadway star Shoshana Bean and “American Idol” runner-up Blake Lewis as emcee. There was also a horn section, a clarinet, an upright bass, drums, a trio of dancers from the LA Follies company and, one of the major highlights of the night, Tambourine Guy. More on him later.

The night began immediately with covers of Azeala’s “Fancy” and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” with Savalas on lead vocals in a ragtime style that already had the crowd whooping enthusiastically.

Playing the vintage seductress in every possible way, Savalas teased the men in the front row between songs, joking that she had come to the “Costa Mesa candy shop in search for a sugar daddy.”

With a large voice that hardly seems fit for her petite frame, Cristina Gatti delivered sultry vocals on a cover of Britney Spears’ “Womanizer” and a swing cover of Beyoncé’s “Drunk in Love” to uproarious applause.

A complete standout was the mash-up of Gatti’s performance of Ariana Grande’s “Love Me Harder” to instrumentals meant to replicate a 1960s “James Bond” theme song. Seriously, look this up on YouTube — it works on so many levels and you’re left wondering how it took someone so long to create such a combination.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Shoshanna Bean’s performances came down like a swift and thunderous punch to the face, in the best way possible. Bean’s Broadway background was highly apparent in all of her vocal work with the band, with a range that dipped low and husky to a high-pitch that seemed almost superhuman.

Her collaboration with the band in a 1970s soul-style cover of The Backstreet Boys’ “I Want it That Way” with Lewis and Savalas as backing vocals had the crowd stomping and cheering without abandon.

However, it was Bean’s performance on a New Orleans’ style cover of Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine” that earned her a long standing ovation and screams of admiration from the audience.

Oh, and Tambourine Guy. He’s a force of nature, an enigma and changed my life without uttering a single word into the microphone. I can’t begin to explain his light and glory, other than to say that you need to go to a Scott Bradlee & the Postmodern Jukebox concert just for him, if for nothing else.

Scott Bradlee & the Postmodern Jukebox’s meteoric rise is one that shouldn’t be ignored — these guys are making it big because they truly deserve it. For a night of great fun and music reinvented in the most beautifully nostalgic way, put your best flapper dress on and Scott Bradlee & the Postmodern Jukebox will do the rest of the work.