Andy Allo first came to my attention, like she did for many, through her involvement with Prince. She started touring with him and the NPG during 2011 and the two then collaborated on her second album Superconductor. Now albums by Prince associates have been a sketchy bunch for awhile, but Andy was determined for that to not be the case with her sophomore release.
I will be the first to admit I was skeptical about Andy's involvement with the NPG at first. But she made a concerted effort to make it clear she was not just another pretty face in a long line of them that Prince has mentored. Superconductor had a couple delays and seemed to be headed for another one before it was finally released in November of 2012. Although we don't know all the details, nor do we need to, it seems around this time Andy took complete control of both the album and her career, leaving the NPG fold to promote the album on her own.
I completely understand the decision. Delaying the album's release date one more time would not have been in Andy's best interests, and we have seen many projects Prince was involved with remain unreleased. Look no further than Tamar's 2006 album Milk & Honey, delayed numerous times then shelved for good after an obvious falling out of some sort. Superconductor was too damn good to fall to a similar fate so major respect to Andy Allo for making the release happen.
Andy spent parts of 2013 touring Europe promoting the album and I was thrilled to see a string of East Coast U.S. dates to start off 2014, including a local one at The Pike Room in Pontiac. This was a perfect venue for her, especially considering this is an acoustic tour. Opening the night was local duo Holly + Jeff who had the place buzzing with an acoustic cover of "It's So Cold In The D" during their set. Rochester's Trey Simon followed and he impressed with a very soulful acoustic set, a local voice to keep an eye on.
Andy took the stage shortly afterwards, joined just by Los Angeles based guitarist Jacob Moses. She started the show on the mic singing but picked up her guitar afterwards for the majority of the show. Her set mixed a few covers, including Frank Ocean's "Thinking About You" and Bob Marley's "Waiting In Vain", with material from Superconductor and her 2009 debut UnFresh.
Now I already had tremendous respect for Andy, as I outlined above. But that respect grew even more seeing her live as she left no room for doubt, she is the real deal. Vocally she sounded fantastic and she had complete control of the stage, getting the audience to sing backing parts and clap when needed. The Pike Room is a small venue and she had those of us there in the palm of her hand. Assured and confident onstage, these live shows serve as proof of her genuine talent.
I was impressed upon first listen at the level of Andy's songwriting on Superconductor so it was great to hear favorites like "When Stars Collide", "Story Of You & I" and "If I Was King". "People Pleaser" did exactly that to close out the night, but it was an extended "Yellow Gold" that really brought the house down. Stretched out to over seven minutes, Andy proved just how funky you could get with just two acoustic guitars and an amazing voice. Truly the highlight of a great set.
I have seen acoustic shows that have lost my attention but Andy Allo made that impossible. Her command of the stage is ready made for arenas, no doubt built during her time playing with Prince and the NPG. She was very sweet to the fans at the post-show meet and greet as well, a truly cool way to close a fun night of music. I'd love to see her return to the area with the full band show she took to Europe at some point, so hopefully continued touring is in Andy's future this year. Prince had a great idea when he suggested last year in an interview that Superconductor be 'reloaded' with bonus tracks and a larger scale release. Given Prince's deal with Kobalt Label Services, that would be nice to see. The album and Andy Allo, are truly deserving of a wider audience.