Patrons sip drinks at tables inside Red Bank, NJ’s sparkling Vogel Theater this Thursday, November 17, 2022 evening as they ready themselves for a live performance by seven-time Grammy nominee Joan Osborne.
The lights dim and keyboardist Keith Cotton and guitarist Jack Petruzzelli take the stage and start to play the intro to “I Want to Be Loved” as Joan Osborne saunters out to the bluesy vibe.
While Osborne soulfully sings, “The spark in your eye sets my soul on fire/Your voice is like angels above/The touch of your hand drives me insane/Baby, I want to be loved,” she plays a snare drum with a single brush with her right hand.
Three-part harmonies call out and Petruzzelli bends notes on his guitar as Osborne sings with breathy expression and feeling on this soulful blues number.
Cotton and Petruzzelli play the intro to Bob Dylan’s 1965 classic, “Highway 61 Revisited.” On this number, Joan’s bluesy voice conjures up mental images of a diverse selection of individuals whose lives intersect “on Highway 61.” Red and blue lights move to the driving beat which Osborne accents on her tambourine.
Petruzzelli strums his acoustic and Keith Cotton solos funky and rhythmically on the keyboard before Osborne’s raw vocal improv on the coda elicits whistles and cheers from the crowd.
“Thank you!” responds Osborne. “How are you, Red Bank? It’s so good to be back.” After introducing Cotton and Petruzzelli as co-producers of her Songs of Bob Dylan recording, Osborne goes on to note that her next number is a “live only bonus track,” explaining, “You have to be here in the room to hear it,” since it was a Dylan composition she and her colleagues never recorded.
On “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” Osborne strums her acoustic guitar as she sings from the heart, “Look out your window, and I’ll be gone/You’re the reason I’m a-traveling on/But don’t think twice, it’s all right.”
Petruzzelli’s thoughtful guitar solo and Cotton’s lyrical piano solo earn cheers from the crowd before an audience member eagerly calls out at the end, “More of that!”
Osborne explains, “In 2020, we put out an album of all new material and this is the title track from that album.” Electronic keyboard, electric guitar, and acoustic guitar provide the instrumental foundation for the upbeat rocker, “Trouble and Strife.” Cotton’s rollicking keyboard solo brings hoots from both Joan and music lovers in the audience as the trio heats up the stage. The arrangement ends with Osborn vocalizing to cheers and applause and a fan calling out, “That-a-way, Joan!”
Osborne announces, “We thought we’d do a little rocker,” explaining, “I just had my 60th birthday, and it turns out you can rock your ass off when you’re 60!” Continuing, “Music has got a very important role to play in the world today,” Osborne introduces another song from the Trouble and Strife album. On “Whole Wide World,” a laid-back R&B tune with a message, Osborne sings, “We could see the whole wide world from here/Lookin’ past the sorrow and the tears/Let me take you to that better place/Let me put that smile back on your face,” to avid audience applause.
Osborne tells the crowd about doing some cleaning during the COVID-19 lockdown and finding hundreds of CDs, cassettes, and rehearsal tapes including a number of high quality recordings from appearances on live radio shows. From these recordings, Osborne created her latest album, 2022’s Radio Waves, which, as she explains, includes a version of her next number, “Shake Your Hips.”
Osborne taps her guitar strings as she sings, shaking her hips to the song’s infectious beat. Her voice sliding to the groove from Cotton’s electric keyboard, Osborne entices listeners to shake their hips with her intoxicating vocal and the song’s irresistible musical groove. Vocalizing with raw energy and soul, at the conclusion, audience members stand cheering and applauding.
Osborne exclaims, “That was fun for me! How was it for you?” before introducing her next number from her 1995 debut album, Relish. Yodeling the introduction, vocal harmonies echo Osborne’s call as she performs a new arrangement of “Pensacola.”
Shaking her tambourine on the rhythmic hip hop-inspired interlude, the performance unfolds like a spiritual with a call-and-response vocal that generates avid audience hoots and hollers.
Cotton plays a jazzy keyboard riff and Osborne adds a bluesy vocal improv on the introduction to “Spider Web.”
As the trio simmers, Osborne dances and snaps to Petruzzelli’s delicious electric guitar riff. Her tambourine playing accents the groovy keyboard and electric guitar riffs on the arrangement’s Zydeco-inspired rhythm before Petruzzelli’s intense and jazzy guitar solo brings yelps from the crowd.
After acknowledging the talents of both Petruzzelli and Cotton, Osborne announces, “This one’s from the Relish record. I don’t always sing it ’cause it’s really hard to sing,” prior to acknowledging, “This is live music. Anything can happen.”
Grand piano and acoustic guitar provide a strong intro as Osborne stands center stage moving to the 6/8 meter of “St. Teresa,” crying, “Way down in the hollow/Leavin’ so soon/Oh, St. Teresa/Higher than the moon.” Heads in the audience bop to her hypnotic performance as Osborne emotes, the music flowing directly to her fans in the crowd who explode with cheers and applause.
Osborne announces, “This is also from the Relish record. It’s included on Radio Waves from a German radio program.” Audience members clap and cheer when they recognize the intro to her 1995 hit, “One of Us.” Osborn stands by the grand piano singing, “What if God was one of us?/Just a slob like one of us/Just a stranger on the bus/Tryin’ to make his way home?” as ethereal back-up vocals by Cotton and Petruzzelli add to the arrangement’s heavenly sound.
Concertgoers stand and cheer, and Joan follows up by performing Bob Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody.” Singing, “You may be an ambassador to England or France/You may like to gamble, you might like to dance/You may be the heavyweight champion of the world/You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls/But you’re gonna have to serve somebody,” Osborne provides an authoritative interpretation of the song on this soulful and funky arrangement.
At the conclusion, audience members stand, hooting and hollering, before the trio bows and the crowd enthusiastically calls for “More!”
For an encore, Osborne and Co. perform the Relish ballad, “Lumina,” where Cotton and Osborne sing in harmony and Petruzzelli plays a twangy yet gentle electric guitar solo. Following avid applause, Osborne declares, “We’re so pleased you guys are here! It’s a privilege to do music for a livelihood. Thank you for having us.”
On a second encore, the driving Trouble and Strife rocker, “Take It Any Way I Can Get It,” Petruzzelli’s electric twangs and Cotton’s grand piano fills as Osborne briskly strums her acoustic guitar, crooning, “I’ll take it any way that I can get it/And I’ll get it any way that I can/It’s my life and you know I got to live it/Don’t you know I’m gonna fit it in the palm of my hand.”
Vocalizing at the end, Osborne brings music lovers to their feet cheering and applauding before she, Cotton, and Petruzzelli exit the stage.
As audience members make their way out of the Vogel theater, we chat with several concertgoers who share their thoughts on tonight’s performance. Asserts Bill from Toms River, “Joan Osborne’s voice was spot on! She still sounds just like she did in the ’90s, and her selection of songs was just perfect.” Sari from Long Branch agrees, adding, “It was an enjoyable mix of old and new songs. I loved her ’90s hits along with her new songs from Trouble and Strife, and I could listen to her sing Dylan all day long. For me, her voice is one of a kind.”
Jack Petruzzelli’s mom, Joan, who is here tonight as a member of the audience, talks about her son, recalling, “He’s been with Joan Osborne since day one. I’m very proud of him and in awe of all of his talent,” prior to adding, “I really enjoyed tonight’s show!” Jack’s sister, Donna, concurs, noting, “I’ve seen quite a few of Joan Osborne’s shows and this one was wonderful,” before adding, “My brother, Jack, is one talented musician,” adding, “He’s got enough talent for all of us!”
Ilene from Bradley Beach acknowledges, “I’m a Joan Osborne fan — I’ve seen her about 20 times,” explaining, “Her voice is just beautiful — she has the most beautiful tone — and she has the purest diction of any contemporary singer.” Ilene’s husband, Ralph, concurs, calling tonight’s performance, “Fantastic as usual,” explaining, “My wife and I are big fans. Joan can sing rock, blues, and bluegrass and never miss a beat. She’s got so much soul oozing from her,” before concluding, “She’s so hot she melts the paint off the wall!”
To learn more about Joan Osborne, please go to joanosborne.com. For information on upcoming shows at Red Bank, NJ’s Vogel Theater — including Livingston Taylor and Karla Bonoff on Dec. 10, Storm Large on Dec. 15, Glen Burtnik’s Xmas Xtravaganza on Dec. 16, and The David Bromberg Quintet on Dec. 17 — please click on thebasie.org.
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