Norah Jones brought her tour to the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre Tuesday evening for a mostly mellow 90 minute show. Relying heavily on her most recent album – The Fall – Jones hit the right tone with strong vocals and excellent performances by the band. Some of the early songs were slightly more aggressive than the recorded version on her albums, but they rarely ventured out of the arrangements heard on the recording, with a few exceptions. Jones performed a couple of songs solo on her upright piano, including and ode to her dog (described as a very manly poodle) called “Man of the House” and a rousing guitar solo by Stormy Hormel.
Switching from a Fender Mustang electric guitar in center stage, Jones addressed both ends of the stage with performances on her Wurlitzer electric piano on the orchestra left side and upright piano on the right. The only sour part of the performance was a poorly tuned microphone by the electric piano that marred her sultry voice by making it sound tinny and always on the edge of distortion.
The night ended with an acoustic encore with all the performers around a single microphone. Jones started with a toy baby grand piano (which she played surprisingly well, given its size) that reminded me of Schroeder's piano in Peanuts cartoons.
The opening act, Elvis Perkins, seemed likable despite some of the most depressing songs I've ever heard. “Stay Zombie, Stay” and “Doomsday” were among is titles. The opening number serenaded the audience with lyrics including “black is the color of human blood.” While the songs were depressing, most of the audience adopted him as comic relief and even started rallying along one song by clapping in time.
As much as I enjoyed the show, I'm not that fond of Bob Carr as a venue. That's because the only way to get to the center seats is to approach from the left or the right. An endless parade scooted past my knees as they went to their seats, back out for a trip to the bathroom, back to their seats, out to get a drink, etc. You get the idea. My knees became quite friendly with a lot of strangers because I got tired of standing up for everyone who needed to get in or out. Why is it the people in the center seats always arrive late when the performance is happening and want to leave early before it's over? These people should get aisle seats.
Despite a few nits with the sound on one mic and the venue itself, the concert made for an enjoyable night out. Concerts are as much a visual feast as an auditory experience. Upon entering, most people noticed it was quite hazy in the theater. That haze provided a nice texture for the lighting, particularly the spotlights on Jones solo performance at the piano.
Jones interaction with the crowd seemed tenuous at first, not speaking until after three songs when she sheepishly thanked the audience for their applause. As the night moved on, her comfort seemed to grow and she mentioned that she enjoyed the back & forth conversation. She talked about spending the previous day at Disney World and screaming on the rollercoaster rides, which she admitted probably wasn't the best thing to do before you sing for a living. Still, her voice was strong and well received by the Orlando audience.