In a packed house at the Tin Pan, Ana Popovic strolled through the audience making her way to the stage while her hot band vamped through an instrumental opening. As she made her way from the back to the front, more and more people began to applaud enthusiastically, until she finally hit the stage and joint erupted.
Ana Popovic is not just a performer, she’s a force of freaking nature who can play a guitar better than almost everyone on the planet, sing with attitude or a whisper, and entertain anyone within the sound of her voice.
Touring to support her latest release, Trilogy, available on ArtisteXclusive Records, Popovic made her first appearance in Richmond in some time. Backed by a three-piece band made up of Adam Ahuja on keyboards, Luvando Thomas on bass, and Jakubu Griffin on drums, she launched immediately into one of the hottest leads imaginable and did so with a casual air.
Not even pausing for more than a second she launched into a funky number, Can You Stand The Heat, which was the title track from the album she released in 2013. She followed with Object of Obsession from the same album, and another title that I confess I was too busy watching to jot down the title.
Popovic then moved on to Train, that she performs with Joe Bonamassa on Trilogy. Bonamassa didn’t walk out from the wings, but he really didn’t need to with Popovic shredding the way she was.
She then briefly took a moment to plug the album, saying that it was a triple disc (hence the name) and that each album reflected her take on a different genre – one for rock, one for blues, and one for jazz. While several artists have taken stabs at different genres, but not many have the fortitude to release an album of each and put them side by side for comparison.
Popovic then said she was going to play a few selections from each of the three albums and started with She Was A Doorman, and followed with another that mesmerized me and once again, I didn’t write the title, before adding a slide for How’d Did You Learn To Shake Like That from her album Still Making History.
After stepping back for that last number, they launched into the “Cowboy” number Long Road Down. While setting up that number she mentioned a little of her personal history, always moving west; first from her native Belgrade, Serbia then Amsterdam, and finally to the United States where she’s landed in California. As she quipped, “I can’t go anymore west than that.”
She then moved into a jazz instrumental that really showcased her band’s enormous talent. Another impressive feature of Popovic’s show is her continual support of her players. She introduced them several times throughout the show and they received well-deserved applause each time.
She continued with a couple of more from Trilogy, Johnny Ray, a blistering slow number, and If Tomorrow Was Today, a powerful song of self-forgiveness. Next up was Albert King’s Can’t You See What You’re Doing To Me and it was a smoking version.
She finished strong with an instrumental that caused the audience to leap to their feet in an extended standing ovation. She bowed and shared the warmth with her band. She closed with Show How Strong You Are and even more applause. She was finally able to break away from the stage and usually at this point at least half the audience will take off for the parking lot, but tonight, nearly every single person stood in line to buy and album, or just to thank her for the evening.
This is the week of the blues for The Tin Pan. Earlier this week they featured John Hammond, tonight was Ana Popovic, tomorrow is Roomful of Blues, and next week is John Mayall. Four amazing performers in four distinctly different styles. It is an abundance of riches for blues fans and indicative of the venue’s commitment to finding artists who can excite an audience in a variety of genres.
Popovic promises to return to the area soon, a promise that everyone in attendance hopes she will keep soon. I haven’t had a chance to listen to Trilogy yet, but will do so shortly and will give it a thorough review when I do.
In the meantime, you can secure your own copy in most of the usual places. And you can check out Popovic’s plans for her tour at http://anapopovic.com/home.