Armed with a name suggestive of being more familiar stringing a tennis racquet than a guitar and with an Amazonian figure of catwalk proportions, Belgrade born Ana Popovic is not your usual guitar goddess to be seen strutting the boards in full to capacity clubs. However, it’s the alluring abilities of her stunning fiery fretwork and front lady personality which attracted a phalanx of punters to cross over into The Borderline after a few fortifying swifties in the next door Cro-Bar on this Saturday night.
Somewhat of a veteran with 12 solo albums now behind her, including her latest Keb Mo produced Like It On Top release, Popovic exudes fret-appeal and oodles of stagecraft experience paying out dividends with a top class blues-rock set in this soon to close sweatbox club; that has hosted many artists on their way to fame which is where Popovic should finally be with her tip-top credentials.
Moving the groove inimitably on opener Ana’s Shuffle, Can You Stand The Heat then appositely addressed the hot to trot crowd who hollered their appreciation as Object of Obsession melted the sticky floor of this rammed to the rafters room.
Switching between her red top and sunburst Strats throughout her career encompassing set, the sweet tone she achieves through her Mesa Boogie amp set-up sets her apart from most in this busy genre. My rockin’ companion for the evening: John Zambetti of The Malibooz, marvelled at the ‘sweet tone’ Popovich produces; something which all blues-based guitarists chase after like a stolen, cherished Ferrari.
Even more, her five-piece backing band with saxophone and trumpet brought a groove and swing and her rhythm section of Eric Ramey on bass and Marcus Finnie on drums locked in tight but loose as the horns loaded up and fired bullets of brass all night long.
The sassy entendre of album title song Like It On Top and a funked-up cover of Steely Dan’s Night By Night, with brass to the fore, revealed a range of top-draw musicianship by all players who nailed the bluesy, jazz and funk demands of this fine slide playing artiste.
With Joanne Shaw Taylor and Samantha Fish, there is a growing scene of female guitar-slingers establishing themselves on the blues circuit and closing tonight’s scintillating set with a medley of songs culminating with Hendrix’s Crosstown Traffic, Popovic proved she is a sassy and classy act on her way right to the top.
Words: Paul Davies Photo: Simon Green