Jake’s Take’s Concert Reviews: Van Alden at Arlene’s Grocery (2019)

Van Alden’s Paul Abrahamian (center) returned to New York City’s Arlene’s Grocery. (Photo courtesy of Gramophone Media)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

I always love to have the opportunity to see Van Alden’s Paul Abrahamian perform his music live. The two-time Big Brother finalist is on tour promoting his new EP: You’re Not Who You Used to Be.  For the second time in nine months, Paul brought his band to New York City’s Arlene’s Grocery.

Fans packed into the Big Apple concert venue to escape a spontaneous thunderstorm that receded by the time the band took the stage. Before they went into the showroom, concertgoers grabbed drinks as Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” Aerosmith’s “Pink,” and Alice Copper’s “School’s Out” blasted over the bar’s loudspeakers. Around 9 p.m., Paul and Van Alden took the stage.

Throughout their set, Van Alden flexed their music muscles with superb arrangements including “Sinner,” which Paul revealed that it was his favorite song to perform live.  Another memorable moment from the concert included when the band played “Stay.” Once the hypnotic synthesizer notes began to play, the Big Apple audience were instantly transported to Van Alden’s dark pop noir view of Los Angeles.

They delivered splendid covers including a fabulous take on The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” which would make impress both Jack White and Meg White.  Also, Van Alden debut a surprisingly impeccable cover of Kendrick Lamar’s “B— Don’t Kill My Vibe,” which I barely recognized thanks to the group’s superb arranging process.

Other highlights of the show was Paul’s storytelling. During the New York City concert, the Van Alden frontman revealed that the band almost did not make it to Manhattan.  Paul’s impeccable narrative revealed that the group was trapped in a Nevada desert due to their van breaking down and had to rely on the kindness of strangers to escape their predicament. I love performers who not only deliver musically, but also engage with their audience and Van Alden is one act that does this in spades.

Final thoughts & grade:  Van Alden continues to grow as a band and thanks to their impressive material, they are getting closer to hitting the big time. The group continues to deliver these amazing performances and churn up strong songs. Van Alden’s latest tour is one that not only Big Brother fans cannot miss, but also is a must attend for any music lover. A

Partial Set List: “Otherside,” “Sinner,” “Seven Nation Army” (White Stripes cover), “Stay,” “Foolish,” “Never Die,” “B— Don’t Kill My Vibe” (Kendrick Lamar cover),  & “XO.”

Missed Van Alden’s New York City show? Head over to the Van Alden website to find out where the group is performing next.

Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar