B.B. King's Blues Club & Grill
New York, NY
April 6, 2014
LiV Warfield's musical career began in her late teens when she moving away from her Peoria, IL home to Portland, Oregon. Working there with local musicians, she got her first taste of the music business. Since that time Warfield has performed with and alongside musical heavyweights including B.B. King, Dave Matthews Band, Al Green and many others. Warfield is also a member of Prince's backing band, the New Power Generation.
Although she released her first CD, Embrace Me
(B&M Records, Inc), in 2006, it wasn't until Prince took her under his diminutive (and figurative) purple wing as his new musical protégée that her career began to take off. As the Executive Producer of her album (1860 Property, LLC/New Power Generation Records, 2014), Prince refined her sound and wrote the CD's first single "Your Show."
On a cool early April New York evening following on the heels of an amazing string of late night television performances (The Arsenio Hall Show, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and The Late Show with David Letterman), Warfield and her band, Blackbird, were joined at B.B. King's Blues Club & Grill by the NPG Hornz. The mega-group which, in addition to Warfield, at various times number anywhere between 15 to 20 members on stage set fire to the legendary Times Square venue.
Her incendiary set followed a short and funky warm-up supplied by Marcus Anderson and his band. When Warfield hit the stage, she and her band immediately fed off the electricity and anticipation pulsing through the sold-out crowd. Her set included "The Unexpected," "Catch Me If You Can," "Don't Say Much," an amazing version of Gnarles Barkley's "Crazy" (performed by backup singers, Saeeda Wright and Ashley Seamster), "Freedom," a cover of "I Didn't Mean to Turn You on," and her single "Why Do You Lie?" before ending the set with a tour de force version of "Blackbird." After a very short break the band returned to the stage for a short encore set that culminated with "Lena Blue" that Warfield dedicated to her Aunt Lena.
In anticipation of the crowd's reaction to the funky music, the seating in the small venue was rearranged. Tables were removed from the center of the audience area and replaced with a dance floor that (by the middle of the first song) was awash in revelers dancing their collective selves silly. But it wasn't just the audience members who were feeling the funkiness of the music. The performers were feeling it too. Their synchronized but improvised stage show was a spectacle that only virtuoso musicians can provide. Warfield, Blackbird and the NPG Hornz played off of each other danced, pranced, bopped and juked across the stage like a well-oiled perpetual motion machine. The singer and the musicians were clearly having fun with the songs, taking slight liberties, adding flourishes and extending the songs' arrangements.
Rock, pop, R&B, soul, gospel, blues, funk, popall sorts of musical genres were visited and melded together during the joyous concert. Warfield, who was beautifully attired in a black and purple (what else?) sleeveless dress was obviously in her element as smiled throughout the high energy performance while letting the music take control. She was clearly comfortable on stage and with her fans responded warmly throughout the evening to audience members who made requests and commented on her fit physique. She encouraged the audience to let it all hang out and enjoy themselves on the dance floor. At the end of the show, she profusely thanked the audience and made it a point to announce that after the show she'd be at the merchandise stand signing CDs and hoping to meet everyone for pictures.
The audience which was packed with music industry executives as well as fans was in awe of Warfield's performance. As the crowd worked its way toward the exits, the industry-types were buzzing about the singing and showmanship. But it was the real music fans who has been moving and grooving all night to the beat and were heard exclaiming "Amazing!" and "Fantastic!" One fan succinctly summed it up by stating, "Wow; wow! Just wow!"
Christine Connallon (view more concert photos)
[Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon].