Photo Credit: Kevin Alvey
The Beach Cafe
Sat April 27, 2019
Nicholas King started performing early. By age 12 he had performed on Broadway and worked with Hal Prince. He opened for Liza Minelli from 2002-2012. He has won a Bistro Award- the Julie Wilson Award at the 2010 Cabaret Convention Center-the AMG Heritage Award for Artist of the year and a Grammy nod for his latest album: “On Another Note” with jazz great Mike Renzi.
His show at The Beach Cafe on Sat April 27 was a mix of jazz standards and contemporary hits and was a wonderfully nostalgic evening that evoked the feeling of another era. King has an exuberant, joyful presence and the skills of a consummate professional that belie has age. He seems to be from another era- an old soul in a very young body and presence.
Accompanied by John Di Martino on the piano, the evening got off to a rousing start with King entering the stage from the audience with Irving Berlin’s Shaking The Blues Away (Berlin). King moves very well and he sang the song in his jazzy, agile style that the audience adored. He followed this with Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You (Frankie Vali) and I Love you Baby (Franki Vali). At one point King spun around and continued the song without missing a beat. He then serenaded the rapt audience with Are There Stars Out Tonight? (Al Dubin, Harry Warren).
King is also a wonderful story teller- he spoke of traveling the world but of losing “the one.” This led into Where Can I Go Without You? (Peggy Lee,Victor Young). King then spoke about his fascination as a boy with the New York of the 20’s and 30’s. He went to the library and read all he could about the city and it’s colorful nightlife and also the stories of the literary, witty writing circle that would frequent The Algonquin Hotel- he quoted Dorothy Parker who said-” If you can survive the dusk you will make it through the night.” He also told a story about writing a letter at the hotel- We got the sense that King sees himself as one of the characters from this period and we are being let in on his private life as he told it through these stories and songs.
Hi is next group of songs: The Waltz Medley were inspired by the great singer Marilyn Maye. One high point in the set The Boy (Girl) Next Door (Ralph Blane, Hugh Martin) showed King utilizing his great interpretive skills. As he sang- he played with the vowels in the somewhat husky sound of his lower voice and cut through his darker tones with pure vowel sounds as he soared into his upper range with clear- ringing tones. King is quite adept at taking the stage and drawing his audience into the story he is telling through music.
In the next section of the performance, King settled himself in the crook of the piano and played a whole scene with his face and eyes- quietly laughing to himself as he went into She Used To Be Mine (Sara Bareilles) Demonstrating further musical skills, King then sat down at the piano- gave a mention to Lady Gaga and launched into Always Remember Us this Way(Lady Gaga)from the recent “A Star Is Born.” King seemed completely at home at the keyboard and singing. After this he called up an audience member seated near the piano (what a coincidence!) who happened to be a fellow performer singing at Birdland later in the week by the name of Daniel Le Claire. King accompanied him on You Don’t Know Me (Eddy Arnold) which LeClaire sang with soul and vocal agility.
King took the stage again with a Cy Coleman Medley-which included When In Rome (Carolyn Leigh, Cy Coleman)and The Best Is Yet To Come (Leigh,Coleman) and thoroughly captivated the audience. His high notes soared and he danced throughout the medley finishing the set to great applause. The last big number of the evening was Mr. Paganini (Sam Coslow). King scatted and crooned -stood center stage and and delivered one of the best numbers of the evening.
As he was wrapping up the evening he mentioned that the following would be his last number- he wasn’t coming back for encores as so many performers do. He started by telling a beautiful story about his friendship with the great Carol Burnett. By chance on the anniversary of her daughter’s death- King called her and sang her a phrase from a song- it touched Burnett so much that she said “she didn’t believe in miracles but today- you made one.” He then sang Burnett’s signature song I’m so Glad We Had This Time Together and My Shining Hour (Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen). The audience couldn’t have been happier.