Mega-talented super-charismatic multi-hyphenate Lauren Marcus made a spectacular return to the Lower East Side on Sunday evening for the opening date of her second singer/songwriter residency at Rockwood Music Hall (her last mid-pandemic livestream from Rockwood was in January 2021), and it’s no wonder she was invited back and should be again and again and again. And again. With a set list of twelve original songs, her singular vocal stylings, signature charm, and sparkling stage presence, Marcus brought down the packed house and filled it with the joy of her personality and the ardor of her indie retro-pop music.
Masterfully accompanied by three harmonious back-up singers (Hana Slevin, Morgan Siobhan Green, and Danielle Gimbal) and a full seven-piece band (Rob Rokicki on piano, Jeremy Yaddaw on drums, Mike Rosengarten on guitar, Dennis Michael Keefe on bass, Danny Jonokuchi on trumpet, Becca Patterson on trombone, and Josh Plotner on sax), the blockbuster group couldn’t be contained on the stage so spread into the room, resulting in a powerful immersive sound and a sense of intimacy with the highly appreciative audience of loyal fans, friends, and colleagues from Broadway and beyond. If you’ve seen her once, you’re sure to become a regular.
The concert got “off to a wild ride” with a high-energy rocking rendition and rhythmic clapping to the beat of “Easy for You,” followed by introductory comments from the personable Marcus, who revealed what she was nervous about (she got up in the middle of the night to cut her own hair; it’s her first time back at Rockwood in two-and-a-half years; it’s the only gig she’s ever done without drinking before taking the stage) and the reason why she was only drinking water and ginger ale – she’s five months pregnant and it’s a girl! (and she doesn’t want to fall asleep or vomit during the show). She’s the perfect combination of irresistible humor, emotional openness, and amazing musical prowess, all of which came across in her reflective personal songs about love, relationships, and connections, self-questioning, lessons learned, and empowerment, in a show she called “half-party/half-therapy session . . . for everyone.”
Among the completely self-penned numbers by Marcus were such soft and slow-tempo ballads of lost love, doubt, and introspection as “Drugstore,” “Happening Again,” and “Big Hat,” punctuated with a cappella segments and intense crescendos; the jazz and blues infused “All the Time” and “Too Many Feelings,” inspired by vintage rock-and-roll; and the upbeat and flirtatious “Talk Me into Something Good,” “I Got the One that Got Away Back” (to which she feels her baby moving in her womb), and “Our Show,” all loaded with laughs and heart, and highlighting her astonishing range and one-of-a-kind vocal catches and clicks.
In addition to those were two brand-new songs that she sang seated, “Every Girl” and “Shauna Hill,” the latter being her husband Joe Iconis’s expressed favorite, for which he joined her on stage and accompanied her on piano, to the surprise and delight of the crowd.
And the stellar show included an exuberant performance of the insightfully feminist “Skinny and Blonde” (which was just released as a single earlier this month across all music platforms and is soon to be heard as a track on her upcoming debut album Drugstore) – a showstopper that had the singers and the entire house up and dancing or moving in their seats.
If you missed it at Rockwood, you can join in the fun and watch the entertaining YouTube video here:
Along with her phenomenal music, the ever-prolific Marcus is presently co-writing (with M. Dickson) the book for a musical adaptation of the 1985 film Girls Just Want to Have Fun, inspired by the hit song of the same name, written by Robert Hazard and popularized by Cyndi Lauper. And she’ll be back with more concerts in her residency at Rockwood, so be sure to catch her whenever and wherever you can. I know I will.
Running Time: Approximately one hour, without intermission.
Lauren Marcus played on Sunday, November 12, 2023, at Rockwood Music Hall, 196 Allen Street, NYC.