Postmodern Jukebox

18th November 2018, Liege, Belgium

What a jewel we have here! One solid excellent concept meets brilliant execution, summed up by PostModern Jukebox. PMJ is a US-based collective of many musicians and performing artists, all under direction and arrangements of the mastermind Scott Bradlee. They are known for neo-retro arrangements and covers of modern chart music. Here you can meet flapper Lady Gaga or My Chemical Romance as a ragtime gentleman, interpreted and sung by former winners and contestants of various music reality TV shows.

When PMJ announced their next European tour, even though I had no idea which of the performers will be there, but I knew I could not afford to miss it. In this tour there distance-wise it was closer for me to travel to Belgium for a show rather than to a far away place in Germany, so the nearest option was to travel to a cozy beautiful town Liege in the Wallonian region.

I honestly did not know how popular this band was in Europe until I saw the length of the queue outside the theater on that Sunday night. The location was so wonderfully chosen though, a beautiful medium-sized theater, in red and gold, with an elegant vintage flare of the past. And it was fully packed with public of all ages, who must’ve also discovered the band through YouTube, like me?! Or am I missing something? However, knowing the neo-vintage scene in Europe and its inhabitants, I did expect a more dressy and shiny kind of audience, but there were almost none. On another note, I was impressed that this many people knew the band. Later, when I posted on FaceBook about it, some were sad to learn there was this concert but they did not know about it…

When they finally came on stage, I instantly knew why the popularity: this music and its presentation, it is so appealing to EVERYONE, it is impossible not to find something to like. Your grandparents would love it for the musical feeling of the bygone stylish and nostalgic past. Your parents would like it for clean but witty lyrics, gorgeous vocal talents and musical virtuosos of live instruments, whilst your kids will like it because it is Katy Perry, Beyoncé and Britney. And I loved it being a neo-vintage girl who already has one foot stuck in the past yet  still copes with life in 2018 through musical escapism, next to your heavy metal collection also unusual tunes and funky arrangements that make modern pop listenable and actually very cool! There is something for everyone, even if you’ve never heard of the band, have no idea what “neo-retro” is or know how to connect to YouTube.

So in this concert, we had five singers – two male and three girls, five musicians and one very awesome tap dancer. This seems to be the formula of success for an amazing entertaining night at the theater. Top that with 3 Euro wine at the bar. The only downside of the evening was that though the theater is such a beautiful setting for this kind of concert, but all tickets were a seating place, whilst all your feet seemed to have wanted to do was to move and dance along the awesome tunes.

Each song, like its own number, with an introduction, very glamorous showgirl outfits that changed for every new song. They sung individually and also as a collective, together, playfully, expressively and very emotionally. The tap dancer was often along for the song or for her own performance in between. What a talented girl, you’d watch without blinking to not miss a tap! In the break I heard it so often among the amazed crowd whispering, “have you seen her feet?! How does she do it??!”

PMJ has a talent for gathering talent. The vocal abilities of their singers are incredible, and the range those performers can do is seriously very impressive from soul to jazz to blues and more, and often better than the original singers of those songs. It is one of the key success points of this band that they take modern music, which is often unimaginative and easily forgettable, and turn them into very jazzy, dancy, sing-alongs that you cannot shake out of your ears once you’ve heard it! Many of the artists whose songs they’ve covered, openly admitted that PMJ made the best cover. And at the same time, this band breathes new life into the songs we have already forgot about from some years back.

More photos in the gallery below!

The concert was in two parts, with a lengthy encore, but it still felt too short. The audience wanted more and the applause didn’t quiet down for a long while. If I had any musical talent, I’d want to be in this band. And now that it is announced they will be in my city in March 2019, I know I’ll be there. And you should come too, and bring your family (grandma?)!

Journalists & photos : Marina Minkler , translation Uwe Minkler
Photos-postproduction Kira Hagen Photography
Band’s YouTube channel
Band’s website

GastmitarbeiterInnen / guest contributions

Regular guest contributors e.g. Melanie Kircher, Tatjana Tattis Murschel, Grit Kabiersch, Marina Minkler, Jasmine Frey, Maria Levin, Elvira Visser, Nina Ratavaara, John Wisniewski