all words: Robb Scott, all photos: Shelly Bell
Seeing Alice Smith was something I looked forward to with a decent level of anticipation—there’s something about her attitude within her lyrics which I imagined to be explosive on stage. Damn those great expectations… they can so easily be expelled.
Let me begin with the fact that her late show was not something I totally understood. A concert starting at or around 10p is no uncommon for the 930 club; however, an 11p start with no opener or DJ to quell the restlessness is uncommon. Mademoiselle Alice Smith, I love your voice, I love your persona, I love you; but are you serious? By the time she came on stage, I was already very much over the entire experience. Once she opened her mouth, I was even more over it. To be frank, the magic of audio production goes a LONG way for this crooner.
What we were presented with was hour after hour of a woman wailing as if she’d hit the bottom of the bottle and was confused by her own insatiable thirst. No shade to her talent, as she is clearly one that can fill up a venue. My issue existed within her half-hearted stage presence and lazy vocal runs—it’s not enough to just hold a note, tone and musicality too play a part. The few die-hard fans within the audience I’m sure found her performance to be the greatest thing since the microwave, but I wasn’t quite as taken up unfortunately.
Smith looked incredible (I’m admitting to my loss of gender sensitivity here) in a super short skin tight black dress and Louboutin pumps to match. Her deep bluesy voice is a total 180 from her thin frame; one of the reasons I happen to find her so endearing. To friends, I describe her as a Corinne Bailey Rae injected with the soul of one of the great Motown divas. On this night, she came off more rock and roll a la Joan Jett than jazz and blues… if this sounds confusing, then well, welcome to my evening. She did he If the intention was to change things up a bit, then I can respect that (but I call fail on that one). If I’m mistakingly interpreting her music to be something other than it is, well, that’s just too bad.
Nearing the midnight hour, I wasn’t the only one who had reached there limit on empty shouts and moans… little by little the crowd begun to thin out. I always feel bad for artists who can’t hold the attention of their audience the way their records clearly do. Hanging on, I will say that she maintained her energy on-stage; not easy when you can clearly see your crowd minimizing. Alice Smith is a talent to watch most certainly, but she may need some more time before she becomes one to be able to support a tour on her own.
With her newest album still fresh on the shelves, I would have expected her to play more older material to get the crowd involved. Despite this misstep, the listening party of sorts which became her concert was a healthy sample of how her music has evolved from her first album released a few years back. She sounds a lot more self-confident and self-aware within her lyrics—like the lyrics of her song “Another Love” state, she tried to be what they wanted, but she got tired. She’s clearly writing her own story when it comes to her career, and I must bow down to her as a talent within her genre. I only hope that the next time she passes through DC, circumstances are different and there is more thought placed into the set.
Be sure to download her new album She available now on iTunes—or stream it for free on Spotify you cheap [expletive]. I’ll reiterate, Alice Smith is a very talented young woman who deserves those MBs w.n your iTunes/iPod… so be sure to show her your support.