Krall delights, entertains and enthralls...
CALGARY — There are some who would say the idea of love is an outdated one.
It, our traditional, Shakespearean definition of it, is something that has long passed relevance, long stopped making any sense in the world that we now live.
It’s a concept that’s, well, quaintly antiquated.
If that’s the case — and, in this Kardashianed society, the argument is one you really don’t want to have — then there couldn’t have been a more fitting and wonderful way to ring in the consumer-tainted, Hallmark-hollow holiday meant to celebrate the dead idea than Canadian jazz ingenue Diana Krall’s delightful St. Valentine’s Eve show at the Jubilee.
It kicked the concept to the curb while celebrating it all the same, mocked while it wooed, pantsed while it seduced, and used the business end of the arrow to put that cherubic fraud Cupid in his candy-packing place.
It was a perfect evening of anti-love, for anti-lovers with songs of rain, sadness, heartbreak, betrayal and the flawed, facade of amour, and it was all-together worth hearing.
The stage was, quite literally set, as the Jube faithful walked into the room, which mirrored the themes of Krall’s excellent current release Glad Rag Doll, greeted by a crescent moon and red curtains, and the silver screen behind showing old-timey cartoon’s such as Betty Boop, with old-timey depictions of life in the age of once was.
As the house lights dimmed, the feature began, with a short film of Steve Buscemi, bringing Krall and her magnificent five-piece into the room, to perform stirring and dreamy opener When the Curtain Comes Down.
And the rest of the evening was equal to the tone, eclipsing it often, with more moody, motion picture projections, memorable musical moments and, more importantly, the star of the show herself, who shone brighter than ever.
Krall has, over the year’s, become jaw-droppingly natural, sometimes silly, incredibly present, in-the-moment, and flat-out endearing. She’s no longer aloof, as she was in her early days, or deserving the diva tag that was earned mid-career, nor even the unattainable, lingerie-clad model adorning the cover of her latest album. She’s merely a generous entertainer, a first-class performer who gives all of herself and so much more.
From her rambling, often goofy stream-of-consciousness song introductions and stories about
summering in the Pincher Creek area at her uncle’s pig farm to a shoutout to students from local Lord Beaverbrook High School with whom she collaborated on with the children’s book From Blue to Red and a mid-set call for requests as she sat, solo at an upright piano, Krall was a lovable heroine every heterosexual man wanted to be with, every woman wanted to be (some, presumably, also with).
But to say that her persona outshone the actual music would be mischaracterizing the show, which was as much action as it was non-rom-com. It’s hard to remember a better paced, more engaging evening of song that’s hit the city than the two-hour-plus, no-intermission, no-opener-needed concert.
It wasn’t sleepy or maudlin, pink-hued, AC jazz to spoon and snooze to. It was everything but.
Krall and Co. showed they could flat-out rock as they did with: a gnarly version of Tom Waits’ Temptation; an angry, bloody, bruised and heartbrokenly epic version of Lonely Avenue; a skronky-tonk take on I’m A Little Mixed Up; a brilliant encore jam on The Band’s Ophelia; and an amazing cover of the classic Ain’t No Sweet Man That’s Worth the Salt of My Tears, that climaxed with her giggling, “This ain’t your daddy’s music.”
When they went jazz, the swung hot ’n’ hard and/or suitably soft, including the fiddle-led Just You, Just Me that bounded about the room as playfully as Pan, and a simmering, bohemian version of Tony Bennett’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams
And, stripped of that skilful band — which, seriously, it’s hard to praise enough — the energy didn’t even remotely flag, as Krall, her smokey yet pure pipes, those fabulous not flashy fingers, made magic out of Peel Me A Grape, Fly Me to the Moon and Fats Waller’s ragtimey I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.
Old timey. Outdated. Antiquated. Sure.
But on this St. Valentine’s Eve, Diana Krall was charming, enchanting and endearing.
And it was impossible not to fall head-over-heels in love.
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