Norah Jones @ The Plenary
Norah Jones. Husky. Sultry. Enchanting.Emotions. Nostalgia. Visions.
All things that are evoked whilst listening to Norah Jones: Floating down a river on a handmade raft of large, oaky branches, whilst lying on your back, watching the clouds above you make formations of rabbits, ice cream cones and love hearts.
Norah Jones: Sitting in a quaint coffee shop, big, woolly jumper on and hot coffee curled into the palm of your hand whilst watching the rain fall on the pavement.
Norah Jones: Crouching down milking a cow for the morning’s milky tidings, whilst a ball of hay rolls past you and the sweet stench of horse manure passes your nostrils?? What??!
Ok, the last one was a bit far-fetched but due to the unprecedented country influence of Norah Jones, live at Melbourne’s The Plenary, we were stretched to find a more suitable country vision. The fact that Norah Jones is from Texas escaped our minds, and we went thinking that seeing this quirky brunette crooner in concert would be reminiscent of performance worthy of a New York City jazz club, circa 1955. Alas, we were mistaken. The country force was strong with this one, Obi. Not to say the show wasn’t enjoyable. (And that was despite the fact that many people chose to ignore the ‘No camera’s’ rule, and spent the entire performance sending distracting flashes towards the stage).
Jones was, at times, captivating and mesmerising the pants off us. At other times though, the sheer size of the venue sent the value of her voice into an empty abyss of space. Her raspy vocals were sometimes drowned out by the instruments of her band, that was until she took to the stage alone, just her and her black and white ivories. If only the show was just like that the entire time, we would have been sitting pretty in our daydreams of coffee shops and Huckleberry Finn. However Jones jumped from genre to genre, playing new, playing old, playing country, playing jazz, playing pop. More country than one might expect, hence the cow teat dejavu. Considering most of her mainstream releases have not been of the country music influence, Vulture was surprised to see just how many songs she had that were under that umbrella of style. At one point after the solo piano segment, she huddled around the microphone at side stage, with band closely tucked in with her, and proceeded to play the more hoedown type of vibe, even commenting herself that she should start one. Now that was some toe-tapping, yee-ha inducing demonstration.
Look, no disrespect at all in the end to this woman. She has the voice of a goddess, has won 11 Grammy’s, can play more instruments than we can name, and has collaborated with more famous people than we can poke a stick at. Her harmonies are just divine and in all honesty, she cannot vocally do any wrong, Vulture would just like to see Jones stick to smaller venues in the future in order to maximise the true potential of her performing capacity.
Highlights: Getting to hear her winning lullaby’s in the flesh is just outstanding enough as it is. She played all the favourites- ‘Don’t Know Why’, ‘Come Away With Me’, ‘Sunrise’ and ‘What Am I To You’. Swoon.
Lowlights: The venue. Just too big for the style of her swag. She would have better suited a smaller, more intimate venue. Captivating the audience on a grand scale is difficult in such a large space.
Photos by Carl Dziunka