Diana Krall Pushes the boundaries with 'heartstoppingly beautiful' melodies at The Royal Albert Hall in London
Probably best known as Mrs Elvis Costello, Canadian singing pianist Diana Krall has spent the past 19 years and 10 albums building a devoted cult following.
Last night, to the politely expressed delight of an audience so hushed and so reverential the atmosphere was more seminar than gig, Krall spent more than two hours showcasing her mix of exquisite tastefulness and quiet boundary-pushin’.
Indeed, such was her command of the crowd and occasion that, for her lengthy solo segment, she turned her back to the audience to face her piano and there wasn’t a hint of restlessness. A brief flirtation with Mrs Mills-style boogie-woogie piano was ill-advised, but a sumptuous caressing of Bob Dylan’s Simple Twist of Fate certainly wasn’t.
Less jazz-tinged than ever, at their best Krall and her five-man band were either lushly gorgeous or brimming with innovation. Gene Austin’s uplifting Let It Rain was dedicated to those afflicted by Hurricane Sandy; Buddy Miller’s Wide River to Cross was heartstoppingly beautiful, while the version of Tom Waits’s (Looking For) the Heart of Saturday Night swapped his growl for her sultry, come-hither vocals, without sacrificing the song’s poignancy.
Yet when they roughed up another Waits song, Temptation, and let thundering percussion lead them through Doc Pomus’s Lonely Avenue, they had energy and edge to spare.
Oddly, for all her proselytising love of this music — some of it 90 years old — and for all her geniality, Krall barely mentioned a title. As for Elvis Costello, like Hugh Laurie he watched from the shadows as she covered his Almost Blue (introduced as “written by my kids’ dad”). This, though, was his wife’s night.