Take two tablespoons of Aretha Franklin. Blend in a pinch of Clinton, a dash of Redding, a cup of Rotten, a slab of Eno and equal parts Jimi Hendrix and Mary Wells. Shake well, heat slowly over a rock 'n' roll fire and you have the simmering soul stew that is singer Nona Hendryx.
Her show at the 9:30 Club Saturday night was a daring musical mix, subtle yet almost unbearably intense. Funky drumming combined with cold, electronic guitar riffs, thumping bass lines and sweet vocal harmonies to produce a sound as old as the Memphis Stax singers of the mid-'60s and as new as the newest New Wave.
On top of it all was Hendryx's voice and distinctive presence. Dressed in a tight body stocking and bumping, thrusting and jerking about the stage, she sent out vocals that were alternately husky and gut-wrenching, soft and almost vulnerable. On songs like "Incommunicado," Hendryx and her scientifically precise four-piece backup group cut through the crowd with jagged, rhythmic swaths while her voice held everything in place with a bluesy, emotional grace.
Nona Hendryx is a dazzling performer who has taken a variety of stylistic ingredients and transformed them into a nourishing musical feast.