I was arm-twisted into seeing Tiffany's show Friday in NYC — and boy, am I glad I caved. She was a revelation as a live performer ...
My friend and I arrived at Iridium in NYC, a jazz space in the heart of Times Square under, of all places, Ellen's Stardust Diner, and were seated right at the stage.
Michael Musto was seated in what passed for the royal box, perched above the action near the door — the perfect view — and the room looked packed with people best described as not being at their first Tiffany gig.
Shortly before the show, Tiffany walked through the front door, no pretense, hugging people and making her way to the stage. She went backstage briefly, then she strolled to the mic and sang her heart out for two hours straight, an impressive display of vocal chops, unselfconscious comfort (and impeccable rhythm) onstage and charming, sometimes self-deprecating humor.
Tiffany is based in Nashville, and it's rubbed off, judging from the recent material she performed, every song catchy and authentic, usually veering toward rock and singer-songwriter balladry. Even though she said she'd written almost everything, it was anything but a vanity set. It was more a confident display of a set of skills some of us who remain trapped in the '80s never knew she had.
As she sang, Tiffany interacted magnanimously with her band, even giving her backing singer — she allowed another redhead onstage beside her! — a solo at one point. She was also playful, funny and beyond accessible. In fact, she frequently left the stage in search of aural sweet spots where she liked what she heard, even if that meant wading into the crowd and posing for pic-withs mid-number.
As passionate as she was about her new material, she made it clear she knew that fans would have died without her hits and oldies, performing the rarely-heard 1987 album track “Johnny's Got the Inside Moves” for a fan watching on Facebook Live and delivering not only a vocally wow-inducing “Could've Been” (#1, 1987) and fiery “I Think We're Alone Now” (#1, 1987) finale, but also an inspired medley of '80s hits by other artists, including songs by Eurythmics, Poison, Heart and Stevie Nicks.
Due to her legit-rocky voice, I think her “I Saw Him Standing There” cover (#7, 1988) was her best moment — that and her rollicking cover of the 1969 Janis Joplin classic “Me and Bobby McGee.” She channeled the late singer during that number, making you forget that Joplin died when she was half Tiffany's age now.
Speaking of which, Tiffany's been around for 30 years, but still isn't old — she just turned 46. She does, however, have an old soul onstage, and a finely developed talent that many would not imagine in the body of the ex-little girl who survived the country's inaugural mall tour.