Super-energized comic pop performer Kat Leonard kicked the evening off, opening with a set of fun, poignant originals and Kat-branded covers, starting with her Johnny Depp ode “Jockstrap” (from her one-woman show/CD A Depper Kind of Love). Mixing her own tunes up with “These Foolish Games” and “Born This Way” (very fitting as Pride Week starts in T.O.), and giving special attention to birthday boy singer/songwriter Matt Gerber, Leonard wrapped it up with her hilarious, self-deprecating tribute to personal foibles “Asshole” (first checking to see if any minors were present – there weren’t yet).
Before Leonard introduced Arlene Paculan and her band, the audience was treated to a screening of Paculan’s recently released video for “Right Behind You”:
Always vibrating with warmth and positive energy, Paculan performed songs from Everything Begins with Love, a follow-up to her I’m Worth It EP, along with some mash-up covers from the likes of Britney Spears and Our Lady Peace. The new CD is a collection of original, sexy – and sometimes edgy – love songs. “If I Only Knew Your Name” speaks to a missed opportunity in a brief, passing moment; “Just Another Guy” is an ode to Iron Man’s Tony Stark; “Nightmare” (which Leonard joined in on back-up vocals) is a warning of romantic revenge, delivered with an acid-dripping smirk; and “Right Behind You” has a subtle edge of desire and desperation behind the driving beat, a craving for reunion with a lost love. “Running” is one of my personal faves – a haunting, longing for love and hanging onto dreams, but needing to let go of fear and stand still to find it.
Paculan’s band included a line-up of excellent musicians: Peter Linseman (guitar, he was also the producer on this project), Sarah Giles (modern upright bass, who folks may recognize from Angela Saini’s band The Residence) and Miquelon “Mickey” Rodriguez (drums), with Paculan on a sweet baby grand. With her sultry, soulful vocals, moving lyrics and passionate, rhythmic arrangements (co-arranged by Linseman, Paculan and Rodriguez), Paculan is both polished and naturally at ease on stage. And she’s a pleasure to watch.
It was a fun and inspiring evening of music, friends, family and fans – complete with a post-concert buffet courtesy of Paculan’s mom – and Gallery 345 is a great venue. “Everything Begins with Love” could also be a fitting description for the vibe in the room last night.