Love in the Age of Pop

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Love in the Age of Pop

The Duplex, NYC, March 2, 2018

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

Love songs from the recent decades of pop music? What an idea! While they don’t strike the romantic chord they used to, the age of tech and lust has brought high-speed to everything, including flings, and the songs that inspire/describe them.
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For the most part, Love in the Age of Pop was easy listening as a number of singers traded off lead. But, love certainly comes in all sorts of phases and, when you include all them, almost every song in the last 40 years drifts within purview. The brain child of Anthony Marino (director and singer), this long set of 20 songs put stylistically different music, like Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain” (Adele/Fraser T Smith) next to “Closer” by The Chainsmokers (Andrew Taggart/Halsey/Shaun Frank/Freddy Kennett/Isaac Slade/Joe King) and others such as Queen’s “Somebody to Love” (Freddie Mercury; from 1976) after A Great Big World’s “Say Something” (Ian Axel/Chad King/Mike Campbell; from 2014) that were released decades apart.

Leading the way among the singers was the polished and professional Samantha Braga, who added a lot of attitude to her style in a strong rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” (Gaga/RedOne). With her voice and ability to play off of the emotions of the crowd, her solo show on March 16 at The Duplex promises to delight. Kaitlyn Farley also performed well, especially in her solo numbers. She must have had a particularly steamy love affair, because her passionate “I’m here to remind you of the mess you left when you went away” from Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” (Morissette/Glen Ballard) had me looking over my shoulder the rest of the night.
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In order of appearance, Danny Mazza, Melissa Licciardello, Renee Steadman, and Anthony Marino also contributed. Each brought a unique style to the table compared to their counterparts. Steadman (“Set Fire to the Rain,” “Say Something,” and others) had a particularly well-developed range and volume which worked particularly well on Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy” (BC Jean/Toby Gad). Licciardello’s smooth, deep notes have potential to impress. Mazza (“Somebody to Love” and others) and Marino (“Closer,” “Say Somethin” and others) were trained singers who delivered lines with good timing. It would be interesting to see one of these four take on a bigger role.

Backing up the group was the band At the Ready, which transitioned easily between styles without skipping a beat: Anthony Bonamassa (guitar); Joseph Brumetti (drums); and John Tucker (bass). Also, special shout-out to the pianist and music director for the evening, Derrick Byars. He led the band well.

Love in the Age of Pop returns The Duplex on March 10 with an additional singer, Liz Townley.

Chris Struck

Chris Struck's debut novel, Kennig and Gold, is due to be officially published in June 2019. He's written reviews for Cabaret Scenes since August of 2017. For more information about the writer, see

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