Sunday, May 27, 2018, saw world famous Jazz musician Kurt Elling’s return to Adelaide’s one and only, the iconic live music venue known as The Gov located just out of the city. It was his first appearance there in nineteen years and while as punctual as always, the jazz master’s over-before-you-knew-it set kicked off just after 8.30pm, without so much as an opening act before him; and understandably so, for who might even be daring enough to open for such a bold and powerful act as the Grammy award winner, the bellowing voice that is renowned worldwide for his power and excellence. I am referring to, of course the one and only Kurt Elling.
After such a long break from being here down under, not a lot had changed in his persona or performance on stage (or off), and he was just as suave and smooth to those he publicly addressed. His booming voice had the crowd captivated once again, he was greeted with a sea of faithful onlookers in the near-packed temporary house of jazz. Even the front bar was closed (for a change) and the line up to enter before doors had even opened was stretching down the street and around the corner.
Kurt Elling performed an awesome set of invoking songs which truly blew away the audience while still keeping them glued to their seats at the same time. It was a good combination of not just his own quintets original compositions, but other great musicians works from across the ages as well, a collection of grand masterpieces overall which seemed to have been put together and pieced apart in such a way to be one spectacular performance, and that it was!
The quintets musical instruments were absolutely stunning, such as the bass (or double bass) player Clark Sommers’ absolute beast of a solid wood upright bass which he played remarkably. It had an incredible and diverse tone which really paired well with the voice, as well as with pianists Stu Mindeman delicate fingering of the keys. The band boasts a remarkable jazz drummer who goes by the name of Kendrick Scott who can really keep a beat, at times really playing outside of the box of what one might consider ordinary too. One of the highlights of the show was without a doubt the electric guitarist John McLean’s impressive guitar solo that may have started off a bit jittery, but with a bit of momentum got real good really quick.
It was a truly interactive programme with the audience shouting out there two cents here and there on more than one occasion in regards to political matters, such as saving our great Australian bite, to general praise for the man onstage.
Fans were blessed with hearing a mix of all the classic songs they looked forward to and come to love over the years, and also had the chance to enjoy a selection of tracks off of Kurt Elling’s newly released record titled “The Questions”, which came out in just March of this year. The album is very deeply emotive in sound, but also tackles a number of world issues head on. He referenced these themes more than once during his live set. It is audibly and visually witnessed that Kurt is truly passionate about that of which he sings about and mentions on stage in between songs. Towards the end of the night he played the well awaited for “Nature Boy” which seemed to be the main song that people in the crowd were waiting for, and had most members of the audience’s jaws to the floor.
As expected, the eloquent and charming Kurt Elling delivered a mind-(and ear)-blowingly smooth performance. His thought invoking set left many questions intentionally unanswered, leaving it up to listeners to find answers in both his music and their own lives. Overall, it was a certifiably jazz-tastic evening, leaving everyone in anticipation of his return to Adelaide, whenever that may be.