Steve Kazee

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Steve Kazee

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, August 3, 2017

Reviewed by Joel Benjamin for Cabaret Scenes

Steve Kazee

Steve Kazee, Tony Award winner for his role in Once, offered an easygoing set at Feinstein’s/54 Below, featuring his own work and songs from that show. He has matured both in looks and tone, although his casual, profanity-laced presentation made it clear that he might be totally at home in a Broadway cabaret venue, but may be more comfortable in a more folk/rock establishment.

Accompanying himself throughout on the guitar, he began with three of his own songs: “My Wild Love,” a quiet love song that built in intensity; “Night/Light,” illuminating Kazee’s fear of darkness as a life metaphor and full of surprising chord progressions; and “Hang On,” another hushed number with anxiety scratching at the surface.

From Once, there was “Gold” (Fergus O’Farrell & Interference), which Kazee performed with total understanding of its Irish rhythmic subtleness. Also from the show, he and guest Kathryn Gallagher sang its well-known theme, “Falling Slowly” (Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová). They seemed a tad under-rehearsed, but managed to communicate this song’s lovely, warm feelings. They also duetted on Kazee’s twangy “Ghosts of New Orleans,” in which the ghost of the title is a lost love.

After expressing worried amusement about aging—particularly his new salt-and-pepper beard—Kazee went into Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic,” which took him for another metaphoric ride, a mystical sailing adventure, his voice opening up dramatically. It was the emotional high point of the evening.

He ended with “The Wolves” (Ben Howard) as a tribute to Sam Shepard, who had recently passed away. It’s a powerful summary of a relationship gone terribly wrong and Kazee managed its twists and turns admirably.

Joel Benjamin

A native New Yorker, Joel was always fascinated by musical theater. Luckily, he was able to be a part of seven Broadway musicals before the age of 14, quitting to pursue a pre-med degree, which led no where except back to performing in the guise of directing a touring ballet troupe. Always interested in writing, he wrote a short play in high school that was actually performed, leading to a hiatus of nearly 40 years before he returned to writing as a reviewer. Writing for Cabaret Scenes has kept him in touch with world filled with brilliance.