By John Curley
I first saw the New York-based singer-songwriter Fiona Silver perform when she supported Gary Clark Jr. at Manhattan’s Beacon Theatre in March 2019. Silver performed a stellar 30-minute set at that show, had the crowd on her side and proved to have a quite impressive stage presence. I had wanted to see her perform again since that show, and the opportunity presented itself on Thursday night, August 26th when Silver performed on a bill promoted by Hayley Griffin of New York Groove that also featured a set by The Silk Wars. The show took place at the club Berlin Under A, which is located under the bar 2A at the corner of Avenue A and East 2nd Street in Lower Manhattan.
On what was an extremely hot and humid night in the New York City area, Silver was clad in a black skirt and a red-and-white T-shirt with “NEW YORK CITY” on the front in the style of the shirt John Lennon wore in the famous Bob Gruen photo. She performed with her talented backing band that features Guy Fiumarelli on lead guitar, bassist Steve Salerno and Sonny Ratcliff on drums. Silver and her band were augmented for the final two songs of the nine-song set by a three-piece horn section comprised of trumpet player Indofunk Satish and saxophonists Kiki Nakajima and Kath Byrnes.
The packed house greeted Silver and her band with a big cheer as they took the stage and ripped into the first song of their set, “Nightclubbing.” Silver sang and played rhythm guitar during the performance of the song. It’s a somewhat funky bass-driven song featuring some nice guitar work and a smooth, confident vocal by Silver. That was followed by “Dark Blue” from last year’s Hostage of Love EP. It’s a jaunty power-pop tune with some clear 1960s influences that Silver delivered with a fun, sassy and soulful vocal. The band provided tight, rock-solid backing for it. Next up was the power pop song “Housewife,” which Silver delivered in alt-country style. The crowd sang along with the “oh oh oh oh” chorus. The band stopped the song abruptly, then started again with a heavier, rocking sound. It was a very effective way to end the performance of the song.
“Little Girl,” a rocker with heavy drums, received a big reaction from the crowd. “Levitate” was given a heavy start by the band, who then downshifted into a more measured rock style for most of the song before getting heavy again at the end. The performance of the song really showed how solid a unit Silver and the band are, and it received a huge cheer at the end. The excellent off-kilter rocker “Magic” had a commanding vocal by Silver at its center and was given an impressive performance.
The show-stopping version of “Hot Tears” was the highlight of the set. Silver resumed rhythm guitar duties on the song and delivered a sexy, playful and soulful vocal. She received outstanding backing by the band, particularly by Ratcliff on drums, and Silver and the band really rocked out toward the end of the song. The crowd roared its approval.
The band’s lineup expanded with the addition of the horns for the performances of “Thunder and Lightning” and the set closer “Violence.” The former is a slow, soulful song with a mesmerizing vocal by Silver at its core. The band were equally impressive, in particular lead guitarist Fiumarelli, whose bluesy playing throughout the song and stellar work during the guitar break was outstanding. The performance of the song featured an extended jam at the end that included some terrific playing by Satish on trumpet. The latter is a funky, dance-style tune that is bass-driven with funky guitar, great playing by the horns and a soulful vocal by Silver. Fiumarelli again showed his chops in the instrumental break toward the end of the song.
Silver is a terrific and engaging performer whose star is clearly on the rise. Additional information, including live dates, can be found on Silver’s Web site at http://www.fionasilver.com/.
The video for Fiona Silver’s “Hot Tears” can be seen below:
The video for Fiona Silver’s “Dark Blue” can be seen below: