No Jackets Required (NJR) performed a show this past Friday in the May Room titled “The Grammy Tribute Show.” As the title suggests, the show paid tribute to Grammy Award–winning artists of the past five years. Selections included songs by Daft Punk, Arcade Fire, Macklemore, and Adele. NJR’s performances were varied and tight, if a little lacking in the fun-loving energy that I’ve come to expect from NJR shows.

The instrumentation and arrangement of the performances on Friday were impressive. A lot of these songs, having been produced in the past five years, have synths and multiple keyboard parts, and NJR did justice to that. Take, for instance, NJR’s rendition of Arcade Fire’s “Sprawl II,” which I would say was a highlight of the set. I was happy to hear the synth string part that comes in during the second half of the song played. It’s one of those parts that is subtle but essential to the song. NJR’s performance of this song also had a driving energy that I highly enjoyed.

Despite its rough start, also impressive was NJR’s rendition of “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele. The backup singers did a great job on the song’s supporting harmonies and the overall energy of the performance was pumping in the way it should be—like a broken heart at a steel mill, lost in the pines, lumberjack crossing you better look out for me, flannel-clad dreams of our love that once was. It’s also worth mentioning that the members of NJR dressed in classy attire for this show, which included slick neon colored sunglasses, sophisticated tuxedos, and elegant red dresses. The group’s outfits made the event feel a bit elite, like a five-star affair.

What I wished I got more of from the performance was the fun banter and funny antics that previous NJR shows have delivered. With the Grammys theme, NJR was rather conservative in its banter, and I think they could have made more of it. Audiences weren’t given the type of “red carpet treatment” that I think would have fit the theme, nor were performers given awards or accolades that real Grammy award winners receive, which I think would have made the show that much more fun.

Also, the general decor of the May Room could have been more glitzy, making audience members feel like they’re at the super-exclusive event that the Grammys really is. I mean, it’s the Grammys—make me feel like a million dollars. I literally just stepped out of a Bentley Continental GT for this. And we can keep the Bengal tiger in the backseat, right? Yeah, valet knows what to do with it. I mean, it’s their job. By the way, Gwyneth says “Hey.” Yeah, she liked the photo, she said it was literally the best thing she’s ever seen. Look, I just dropped a billion on this house on the coast of Saint Kitts and Nevis. It’s nice, right? They have, like, really happy people over there. I mean, it figures, America is like, screwed. M.I.A. lives there now? You don’t say. I mean, “Airplanes” was one of my favorite songs of all time, B.o.B. was so great in it.

Overall, NJR’s “The Grammy Tribute Show” was well above average. The performances were clearly well-rehearsed, with rich instrumentation and dire energy. The song choices were really exciting too, particularly Arcade Fire. What kept the night from being absolutely stellar was the lack of a theme outside of the song choices. Had there been some of the witty and imaginative banter that other NJR shows have delivered, and maybe a more exciting atmosphere, this show could have been a knockout.

Tagged: Grammys


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