Canadian jazz icon Diana Krall enthralled a packed house at the Festival Theatre on Saturday night. The forty nine year old grammy award winning jazz pianist and singer rolled through a range of songs in a frenetic near-two hour set, which included a one song encore.
On offer were classics from Irving Berlin, Peggy Lee, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and a number of Fats Waller numbers. While the show centred on Krall, there were plenty of times when her air-tight band stole the show with speedy jazz guitar solos and riffs, rumbling double bass and some seriously snappy drum solos. The band, obviously well rehearsed and with a comfortable familiarity, made space for each instrument, varying their volumes and tonality accordingly. Krall had obviously selected a top notch band from the US jazz circuit and certainly, they more than lived up to expectations, particularly when playing at fast tempos. Occasionally the guitar may have been a little high up in the mix early, with Krall’s piano almost drowned out, but this was balanced out later into the set. Otherwise the mix was near perfect, although could have been a touch louder. Krall’s contralto vocals, whilst strong, aren’t necessarily on the same level as her ability as a pianist, but given her lower range and natural tone are certainly engaging enough. Her renditions of Neil Young, however, brought out a little more passion and emotion, which the knowledgeable crowd clearly appreciated.
Three quarters of the way into the gig Krall played a number of solo tracks, demonstrating her fantastic depth and skill set. Her self-deprecating humour and charisma was also on show as she told the audience about her influences, tours with Neil Young and the way in which a number of major jazz identities shaped her career. Her home life with Elvis Costello and their two kids clearly was also a huge, influencing factor for her music.
Overall the show, as I’m sure most in attendance expected, was easily first rate. The band was magnificent and their performance earned both a standing ovation and an encore. There’s no doubt her show won over those in attendance, and will guarantee another packed room next tour.
Reviewed by Gavin De Almeida
Australian tour dates remaining
10-12 Feb: Melbourne (Hamer Hall)
15-16 Feb: Margaret River WA (Leeuwin Estate)