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Norah Jones: Caught live at Hammersmith Apollo


Review: Jack Foley and Hollie Cade

FOR someone so successful, it was almost refreshing to find Norah Jones displaying such a nice line in humility when she played the Hammersmith Apollo on Sunday night, as part of her first UK tour.

The Texas-born singer arrived on these shores having sold 20 million albums and winning eight Grammys for her albums, Come Away With Me and Feels Like Home.

So it would have been reasonable to assume that she may have carried with her an air of confidence, even arrogance, that seems to taint every successful artist once the cash starts rolling in.

Not so Ms Jones, whose gig has to rate among the most civilised we have ever seen.

The stage had been set up in such a way that it looked almost homely, with carpets on the floor and a number of lanterns hovering above, to provide some discreet lighting.

The crowd could almost have been intruding upon a living room jamming session, as Ms Jones and co - The Handsome Band - went through their paces.

Were it not for the singer's constant audience interaction, we just might have been, but even the singer couldn't help but notice the irony of seeing one of her fan's yawning contentedly (twice) during the early part of the set-list.

She commented on it, of course, but it was a polite heckle, and very well-meaning - as were her comments about the English weather, her high heels and the quaint English accents.

It leant the evening an intimacy we might not have expected, with the music also serving to heighten the relaxed atmosphere.

Jones has made a name for herself through a combination of quality songwriting and an individual voice, which carries an uncanny ability to appeal to listeners of all ages - the crowd was notable for its diversity, with young and old mixing with couples on a romantic night out.

Yet she is backed up by an incredibly gifted band, whose musical repertoire took in everything from snare drum to mandolin, through to acoustic and slide guitar.

The Handsome Band did plenty to enliven proceedings, while serving to ensure that the limelight did not fall solely on Jones.

Yet it was, unquestionably, Jones the crowd had come to see, and her sultry voice more than lived up to expectations, sounding even more delicious than it does in studio form.

Of the highlights, a cover of Tom Waits' Long Way Home, a lively version of former single, Sunrise, and an impromptu rendition of Lonestar left the biggest impressions.

Although Come Away With Me, Those Sweet Words and Toes weren't far behind.

Jones even attempted to compensate for some of her slower numbers by speeding them up, while the band seemed to introduce a few more instruments and solos than are evident on the albums, which both contributed to the overall enjoyment of the evening.

At the end of the day, this was a concert geared towards giving the fans what they craved, and although the wait to see her had been a long one, it certainly proved worth it.

Jones may be labelled boring by some, or dinner party music by others, but she certainly has something that has helped her to appeal to the millions who flock to by her albums.

That, coupled with a nice line in self-depracating humour, and a low-key, girl-next-door demeanour, meant that it was hard not to fall in love with her.

This was, to summarise, an excellent showcase of her talents, which should serve to ensure she is welcomed back with open arms whenever she next decides to tour the country.

 

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