July 7, 2012
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Concert Review: Norah Jones

Massey Hall, Toronto - July 6, 2012
By JANE STEVENSON, QMI Agency


Singer-songwriter-pianist Norah Jones brings her summer tour behind her latest album, Little Broken Hearts, to Massey Hall on Friday Toronto on Friday July 6, 2012. (QMI Agency/ERNEST DOROSZUK)

TORONTO - I certainly had higher hopes than usual for Norah Jones on Friday night at Massey Hall.

Especially with a darker and edgier if still dreamy sounding new album, Little Broken Hearts, released back in May, which she co-wrote with hugely respected hip hop-rock producer Danger Mouse (The Black Keys, Gorillaz, Gnarls Barkley, Beck).

But more often than not the 33-year-old-Jones - looking and sounding lovely in a strapless red sundress and heels with her strong, sexy voice and crack piano (and acoustic-electric guitar) playing on impressive display - seemed reserved and timid, maybe even a little nervous, as she even awkwardly forced a few smiles in the opening new song, Good Morning.

It’d be one thing if she was new at this, but it’s been a decade since Jones (the daughter of sitar master Ravi Shankar) broke through with her debut, Come Away With Me, which won her multiple Grammy awards and sold 20 million copies.

So maybe Jones is just more of a studio creature than a live performer and always will be? Who knows?

Early on, she gained a cruel concert nickname, Snorah Jones, although she herself has laughed at it.


To be fair, there were definitely moments on Friday night where the sultry-voiced singer-pianist-guitarist and her ace four-piece band (three quarters of which were members of The Candles) brought some genuine dynamism to the proceedings as they played beneath a dozen strings of lights with origami birds hanging from the ceiling.

And usually it was a cover song that broke through the pleasing mellowness of it all - whether it was the Grateful Dead’s It Must Have Been The Roses; Danger Mouse’s Black that Jones contributed vocals to on his 2011 spaghetti-western inspired album, Rome; Hank Williams’ Cold Cold Heart, or Hoagy Carmichael’s The Nearness of You, the latter which featured Jones all alone on stage on piano.

“I love being here,” said Jones acknowledging being back in Massey Hall. “I know the dressing room really well. Maybe I should hide something for the next time I’m here.”

Also striking was when Jones and the band gathered with acoustic instruments around one microphone at the front, bluegrass style, to sing the two encore songs, Sunrise and Come Away With Me.

Whatever the reason for her perceived uncomfortableness on stage, Jones’ music is solid, especially her new album with such standouts in that regard as She’s 22, Out On The Road, Miriam, and Happy Pills, along with older tunes Chasing Pirates, What Am I to You and Lonestar.

SET LIST:

Good Morning

Say Goodbye

Take It Back

It’s Gonna Be

Chasing Pirates

She’s 22

All a Dream

Black

It Must Have Been the Roses

Cold Cold Heart

Out on the Road

Miriam

Happy Pills

The Nearness of You

Don’t Know Why

What Am I To You

Little Broken Hearts

Stuck

Lonestar

Encore:

Sunrise

Come Away With Me

 


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