Norah Jones – Live @ The Aotea Centre, Auckland 2019
Tuesday night I headed out to the new and improved Aotea Centre to see Norah Jones’ first show in our fair country. The American singer/songwriter has half a dozen albums spanning her 14-year career, she’s a 9 time Grammy Award winner and all I can say is it was well worth the wait.
WORDS BY KIMBERLEY JONES – PHOTOS BY BRAD HOLLAND
Feeling a little on the younger side, for a change, surrounded by a very upmarket crowd we took our seats anticipating the opening act, which we were pleasantly surprised to be comedian, Melanie Bracewell, the highlight of the evening.
The stage was jam packed with 3 pianos of varying size, all with microphone stands, a full drum kit, a cello and guitars, all set for a night of jazz.
A long way away from her Brooklyn home, Norah Jones, started with My Heart Goes On, a song she has admitted that she has to be in the mood to perform as it is so close to her heart.
Celebrating her new album Begin Again, the star continued with each song without any preamble whatsoever. Nightingale and Uh Oh were the next up and were played elegantly without a note missed. It was rather distracting to see that a member of the band seemed to be chewing some gum which was not what I expected to see at such an event. I was glad to see this ended after he took a quick break between songs.
“I like this you guys are fun, thank God” Norah giggled after there was a battle of sorts between a couple of concertgoers yelling they love her.
“This is a new song,” was all the intro we got into A Song with No Name. Then taking front of stage, Norah Jones performed Sunrise standing with an acoustic guitar.
Wearing a simple black pleat skirt & sequined black jacket the 40-year-old showed that her unique vocals are still what they were when she started out. This song was the only one of note that had any ‘special effects’. With warnings posted out in the foyer that I saw before we took our seats, we were expecting to see some smoke machine as well as wonderful light shows. However, to me, it looked like someone was vaping off to the right side of the stage as mere puffs were seen sporadically.
Begin Again was up next and just as I thought the evening was going to be a very melancholy one, the tempo was picked up briefly with Black. Starting with a subdued piano solo, the drums and rest of the band picked up the beat to deliver a short yet much-appreciated speed boost. With the band leaving stage, Norah went gospel for a while with Humble Me before quickly proceeding with Flipside with the band back with her.
While there was a total of 5 people on stage there was hardly any visible interaction between any of them really. The evening certainly lacked the inclusion of the crowd as well. There were no singers, not even anyone that I could see that was bopping their head or swaying to the music.
Doing a cover of the Tom Petty song, Angel Dream, technically speaking, Norah Jones hit every note like a pro and the finishes to songs were also all very well-rehearsed. There was nothing during the evening, however, that gave me the impression that anything had been especially planned for the New Zealand audience.
Come Away With Me brought Norah back to the front of the stage to perform with an electric guitar this time. It was really nice to have a chance to see her face, even if it was for a short song at a time. Being what I consider to be her most popular single, I would have expected some in the audience to try to sing along but that wasn’t to be as we witnessed a version that was certainly not the radio release that we all know and love.
I Don’t Know Why I Didn’t Come was next and was rounded out with I’ve Got to See You Again drew to a close the songs that I was familiar with and so it seemed was the majority in attendance as these three songs had the loudest applause of the evening.
Bringing the main setlist to an end with Carry On I was left feeling like there was something missing from the show. As soon as this song was over, a large number of people left the building at speed like they were waiting for an excuse to get out. Sadly, they all missed the encore of Just a Little Bit.
Don’t get me wrong here, the music was beautiful and played with precision. It very much reminded me of a very lazy Sunday afternoon with some wine. Then I realised what was missing, as I exited the building, there was no buzz from the crowd. There was no excited chatter between couples or friends about what was their favourite part of the show they had just witnessed and what they would remember the most.
Musically a well-executed show, last night was for the niche market that seems to be serving Norah very well indeed. She is off to TSB Arena for her next New Zealand show Wednesday night.