It is always exciting to see familiar names in and around the forever changing music scene. One of those names which made a big splash during the 1980s was talented frontwoman Katrina Leskanich, better known as Katrina of Katrina and The Waves. Leading The Waves as their voice/rhythm guitarist for eighteen years, the band broke into mainstream international success in 1985. After years of hard work, Katrina and The Waves signed with Capitol Records, re-recorded tunes from their first two LPs, and released their first major label album entitled Katrina and the Waves. Garnishing massive attention with the re-worked edition of now iconic song “Walking on Sunshine,” Katrina and The Waves stamped their place in music history forever. Through the ups and downs of being in a band, subsequently, Katrina and the Waves parted ways in 1999 and Katrina launched a solo career a few years later. Remaining active recording new material and contributing her voice to other artists as well, Katrina kept her love for music alive.
Born in America, but lived in England for almost four decades now, Katrina’s name has been relatively unheard for sometime in the North American region until the Summer of 2014 when she appeared on the Retro Futura tour with Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey, Howard Jones, Midge Ure, and China Crisis. Feeling as if there was no place for her in the modern music world, Katrina’s passion for performing live was re-ignited from her time a part of Retro Futura Tour and thus inspired her to record her second overall solo album, and first in ten years, entitled Blisland. With a new collection of tunes, a new backing band of two former Blackhearts, bassist Sean Koos and guitarist Jimi Bones, as well as drummer Kevin Tooley, whom has played with John Cale, Lou Reed, Midge Ure and Eric Burdon, has brought new life to the under-appreciated performer. Now, for the first time in over twenty-five years, Katrina embarks on a solo tour across North America with sixteen dates in hand. Fittingly kicking off the party on St. Patrick’s Day, Tuesday March 17th, Katrina came to Page One in Glen Cove, NY. A staple restaurant in the village of Glen Cove, on this night it would be transformed into dinner/concert with tables set up, dressed in candlelight, and stage in front of French Doors leading to School Street.
Greeting the audience as they arrived to find their seats, order drinks, along with dinner was Long Island based singer-songwriter Paris Ray. At only nineteen years old, Ray found a love for music at a young age writing and recording as early as fifteen, and now is a student at Purchase College majoring in Songwriting. Seemingly ecstatic for the opportunity to be the supporting act for Katrina, Ray walked up to the microphone, took her acoustic guitar, and, with a bright smile, began with a song entitled “Emotional Insurance.” With a sweet and delicate voice, Ray demonstrated impeccable vocal control, singing as she offered honest, emotional, and original songs. Coming across highly mature for her age, Ray’s lyrics covey deep-seated feelings of love, relationships, heartbreak, and family.
Performing her other originals like “Everything,” “Secret Song,” and “Middle of the Sea,” Ray kept her composure, strumming her guitar and engaging the audience with stories behind each track. Dedicating a tune to her boyfriend and another to her mother, who were on hand watching, Ray had everyone smiling throughout her set. Showing diversity in her skills, she included some upbeat tracks, which were also all her own. Those familiar with the stylings of actress/singer-songwriter Emily Kinney will love Paris Ray. She is a bright, budding, and talented songwriter which is no doubt headed for big things. Keep a look out for her as she is set to release a new album later this year.
After a brief intermission, everyone was settled in, enjoying their meals, and ready for a relaxing acoustic performance with Katrina, or so it seemed. In true Rock-n-Roll fashion, Katrina, Koos, Bones, and Tooley fired up the amps and surprised everyone with a full-blown electric rendition of 1989’s “Rock n’ Roll Girl” followed by 1985’s “Red Wine and Whisky.” In good spirits and certainly happy to be performing live, Katrina conversed with the audience in the very intimate setting, asking who was Irish and ready to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a drink, only to have everyone laughing when she stated she already drank her Guinness backstage. Clearly not an acoustic band, Katrina was the only one with an acoustic guitar strapped across her, while her seasoned rockers provided a full, clean, but edgy sound through fan-favorite “Going Down to Liverpool.”
Having already provided a generous dose of older tracks, the time came for Katrina to showcase the material from her new album Blisland such “Dizzy” and the catchy single “Sun Coming Upper,” with The Waves’ “The Game of Love” tucked in-between. Showing vast passion in her delivery, Katrina proved she has not lost a step, and her unmistakable voice shined bright on other newbies like the raunchy “Texas Cloud” before 2011’s heartfelt “Scar.” Keeping the mood light and fun, Katrina continuously cracked jokes with the audience, while showing tremendous camaraderie with her bandmates, who sounded extremely tight. Given a chance to let loose and rock out, Bones ripped through guitar solos while Koos and Tooley mixed in a backbeat that had the band asking if the French Doors behind them had reinforced glass. Jamming through other Waves pieces like “Do You Want Crying,” “Lovely Lindsey,” rare song “Walking Where The Roses Grow,” and “”That’s The Way,” everyone was engrossed in the fun mix of music Katrina and her band inspirationally performed. With the entire room applauding, an easily recognized beat began by Tooley which gave way to the guitar melody and famous shout leading into set closer “Walking On Sunshine.” Having everyone on their feet and dancing between the tables, Katrina gave the classic song everything she had singing each note as affectionately as the last, and even brought the chef of the restuarant to the microphone to join in. It was an uplifting end to a sensational performance that had everyone thankful they came out to Page One.
Katrina Leskanich certainly does belong as a part of today’s music scene. In a time where Pop music has seemingly lost an originality, Katrina has the fire and flare of a true rocker that should be welcomed with open arms. Her hiatus from music has concluded, and now it is time to go out and revisit Katrina as she continues her tour across North America through April 4th.