To hell with Amy Winehouse.

Last Saturday, I caught Nikka Costa performing at The Loft. There may have been about 125 people there, and Nikka burned the house down with a super-tight seven-piece band, inculding horn section.

The girl was uncontainable — like a hybrid of Janis Joplin and James Brown. This was a preview for her new disc, “Pebble to a Pearl” (Stax). She was a master performer in the tradition of old-skool blues and soul. She interacted with the crowd with plenty of call-and-response anthems.

NIkka’s been in the “Where Is She Now” file since 2001. But make no mistake, she’s back — and more fierce than ever. Expect a second leg of the tour in the near future.

— Photos by Truitt Ray and Daniel A. Kusner

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