The Muses Behind the Legends of Rock n’ Roll
by: Marilyn Lester
If the term avante garde can be applied to the cabaret genre, Lauren Fox embodies it. Her original shows are not your mother, father, or grandparent’s cabaret. At a Fox show the old standards of the Great American Songbook give way to the standards of the modern era – and in this case, the modern classics of rock and roll as purveyed by Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, George Harrison, Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton, David Bowie, and others.
“Groupies – “The Muses Behind the Legends of Rock & Roll” celebrates the women behind much of the music; the pioneering girls of the sexual liberation movement who put the “sex” in sex, drugs and rock and roll. These are the girls who loved the music as much as, or more than, the musicians. They were famous in their own right and inspired tunes such as Jackson Browne’s “Enough of the Night,” Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out,” David Bowie’s “Lady Stardust,” Lindsey Buckingham’s “Go Your Own Way,” and Ray Pennington’s “I’m a Ramblin’ Man,” sung by Fox with characteristic keen penetration of the lyric. Her style is direct, sure and confident. While it’s unfair to compare, she has been likened to Joni Mitchell in the past – but here she’s grooving with the driving sensibility of rock diva Stevie Nicks, famously the girlfriend of Buckingham and then Mick Fleetwood. Fox performed two Nicks-penned songs, “After the Glitter Fades” and “Storms” for the distaff point of view.
Fox is also an actress, and her training in that area enhances and adds depth to her singing, as well as the way she directly and comprehensively connects with her audience. Fox also pays attention to detail, creating a relevant ambience to the proceedings: a scarf casually hanging from the microphone stand, another draped artistically over the piano, and a white lace dress evocative of the 1960s and ‘70s era of the show. Fox’s acting abilities also lend texture to the meticulously-researched narrative. As much as she is a singer, Fox is a storyteller. With “Groupies,” she’s woven an intricate tapestry of a lifestyle, tying together the who slept with whom to the music.
Often with direct quotes from the girls, the couplings and uncouplings are fascinatingly detailed, beginning with the legendary Pamela Miller, aka Miss Pam, the inspiration behind Jimmy Page and Robert Plant’s “Going to California,” and “Hey Hey What Can I Do.” From Miller to Lori “Lightning” Maddox to Catherine James to Michelle Overman to Marianne Faithfull, the songs keep coming. Faithfull, a singer in her own right, inspired the Mick Jagger/Keith Richards/Andrew Loog Oldham tune, “As Tears Go By,” as well as the Jagger-Richards “Wild Horses.”
The instrument most associated with rock and roll is, of course, the guitar. The set was well-served by the acoustic and electric guitars of Peter Calo and the bass guitar of Ritt Henn. Music Director and piano man, Jon Weber proved very at home as a rocker; Weber is versatile to say the least. It was evident during the entire set that these cats were having fun. Each got to especially shine in the more musically complex numbers: guitar god Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” and George Harrison’s “Something,” each inspired by Pattie Boyd. Midway through Fox’s set, Clapton’s “Layla” provided a high-point with its hard rock, guitar-propelled first half, which morphs into a lush piano movement. Fox’s encore number, Elton John/Bernie Taupin’s “Tiny Dancer,” with its lyric: “Piano man he makes his stand In the auditorium. Looking on she sings the songs. The words she knows, the tune she hums.” not only showcased the especial talents of Fox and her musicians, but aptly summed up the theme of this creative and captivating show.
Lauren Fox: Groupies – The Muses Behind the Legends of Rock & Roll, Wednesday, May 20th, 9:30PM,Thursday, June 11th, 9:30PM, Wednesday, July 1st, 9:30PM
The Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Street, 212.206.0440, http://metropolitanroom.com