Monday, April 29, 2013

Concert Review: Diana Krall at the State Theatre

Diana Krall, "Glad Rag Doll" album cover.

Diana Krall, 2012.
Last night my wife and I went to see Diana Krall at the State Theatre in Minneapolis. Krall is touring in support of her 2012 album “Glad Rag Doll,” which features songs from the 1920’s and 1930’s. “Glad Rag Doll” was produced by T-Bone Burnett, who has also produced albums for Krall’s husband, Elvis Costello, who’s one of my favorite singers and songwriters. The State Theatre was the perfect setting for Krall’s tour, as it fit in perfectly with the vaudeville era that Krall’s album was seeking to capture. The set design evoked a kind of fading glamor, with a crescent moon illuminated with light bulbs, a large projection screen behind the musicians which played film clips during the songs, and a lovely antique upright piano that Krall played during several songs. And the set looked fantastic in the setting of the gorgeous State Theatre, which has been restored to its former glory. 

Krall performed with a small backing band of 5 musicians: Dennis Crouch on bass, Karriem Riggins on drums, Patrick Warren on keyboards, Aram Bajakian on guitar, and Stuart Duncan on fiddle and guitar. Bajakian and Duncan handled most of the soloing throughout the night, and their fine work gave Krall’s songs a different flavor. Duncan’s violin playing gave many of the songs a Django Reinhardt/Stephane Grappelli flavor, which fit it well with the time period Krall was trying to evoke, and which I really loved. 

Krall was in fine form last night, her piano playing was marvelous, and her voice was wonderful as well. Krall’s piano playing, like her singing, can vary from song to song from being tenderly expressive to wildly swinging. Krall’s voice is warm, husky, and sensuous, and also very versatile, as she projects emotions ranging from being giddily in love to morosely heartsick. Krall played most of the songs from “Glad Rag Doll,” opening the concert with the closing song from the album, “When the Curtain Comes Down.” The song was introduced by a film clip of the actor Steve Buscemi, and Buscemi actually started singing the song to us, with Krall eventually taking over the vocal. 

During the middle of the concert, Krall sent the rest of the band off stage and performed several songs solo at the antique upright piano on stage. She likened the difference between the grand piano and the upright to driving different kinds of cars, calling the upright piano “a very finicky one.” It still sounded good to me as she played some very swinging songs on the upright, the Nat King Cole tune “The Frim Fram Sauce,” “Glad Rag Doll,” and the Fats Waller song “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.” 

Krall was in a very talkative mood last night; she told us stories and talked to the audience in between just about every song. It’s clear from her interactions with the audience that she’s a warm, funny, genuine person. Krall was self-deprecating and very witty. She talked a lot about her family, and growing up listening to old 78 records with her Dad. And in case you couldn’t tell from the photos above, I can confirm that Diana Krall is also a very attractive woman. She’s absolutely beautiful, and her beauty is very striking in person, even from the balcony. She’s also talented, smart, funny, confident, and all of those things just make her more attractive. 

Krall mixed many different styles of music together during the concert. Obviously, her work is always infused by jazz, but Bajakian’s forceful guitar solos gave the music more of a rock and blues feel on some songs. Krall’s choice of material was also very interesting, as she sang Tom Waits’s “Temptation,” which she included on her album “The Girl in the Other Room.” “Temptation” was the most rocking song of the evening, as Krall alternated between playing her grand piano and an electric keyboard. “Temptation” was also one of my favorite songs of the night, as it was not what I was expecting from Krall. Another bluesy song somewhat similar to “Temptation” was the long workout given to “Lonely Avenue.” The band was wailing on that one. Krall also worked in a lovely cover of Bob Dylan’s “Simple Twist of Fate,” which she did a great job with. One of my favorite songs of the evening was “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” which I know from Tony Bennett’s version. It’s a great song, and it fit the mood of the evening very well. Krall played two songs by The Band during her encore, “Ophelia,” and “Whispering Pines.” These songs worked well, and I was thrilled to hear her play some songs from one of my favorite groups. I didn’t know that Krall was such a fan of The Band, but like her husband, she has wide-ranging musical tastes. 

Last night’s concert was a fun evening full of memorable music very well-played. “Glad Rag Doll” adds some new sounds to Krall’s familiar jazz palette, any fan of hers should go pick up the CD.

When The Curtain Comes Down
We Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye
There Ain’t No Sweet Man That’s Worth The Salt Of My Tears
Just Like A Butterfly That’s Caught In The Rain
Everything’s Made For Love
Let It Rain
The Frim Fram Sauce
Glad Rag Doll
I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter
Simple Twist of Fate (Bob Dylan)
On The Sunny Side Of The Street
Lonely Avenue
Wide River To Cross
Just You, Just Me
Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
I’m A Little Mixed Up
Ophelia (The Band)
Whispering Pines (The Band)
Prairie Lullaby


Sergio E. Benìtez said...

Estimado, espero que el pròximo año venga a la Argentina!
Realmente es un espectàculo imperdible!

Anonymous said...

Mark - Nice review, thanks! Saw her in Rockville MD a few weeks ago, and the performance I saw closely matches what you described.

Mark said...

Sergio-it was a great show! Your blog looks great-keep up the good work!