Last night was my second “A Day on the Green” concert held at the beautiful Centennial Vineyards in Bowral. The first was January 2009 when I attended the stupendous – there’s no other word for it – Leonard Cohen concert. That really was a concert to end all concerts.
Last night’s concert though was no slouch. The performers, all female jazz and blues singers, were, in order:
All performers entertained us beautifully – but each in her own special style. Katie Noonan (with her Captains!) got us off to a good start with some engaging home-grown music. They performed for just half an hour but included music from their recent album. There is something nice about being entertained by your own, by someone who speaks the same cultural language.
From Mr Gums’ point of view, Melody Gardot’s set, also only around half an hour, was the most musically interesting of the night. She is a singer-songwriter, pianist and guitarist, and was probably the most intense – and in many ways the most sophisticated – of the performers. For those who don’t know her story, she came to her music career through music therapy following a near fatal accident in 2003. (It is because of the accident – not some sort of diva-affectation – that she wears the dark glasses you see in the image below.) I found her fascinating.
Next up was Madeleine Peyroux. She too is a singer-songwriter and guitarist, and presented both original music and uniquely interpreted covers. She was the character of the night, and used her Chaplinesque bowler hat to good effect as she transitioned between pieces. If Gardot was the nightclub sophisticate, Peyroux was more relaxed and casual, but no less professional. She apologised for not having many happy songs, but who could complain when you were treated to such music as her beautifully controlled soulful rendition of Cohen’s “Dance me to the end of song”. She performed for about 45 mins – and I liked her.
Diana Krall is a pianist and singer-songwriter – and interpreter of song. Before I went to the concert I read a few online “reviews” of earlier performances in this series, and there were some complaints: her voice wasn’t up to it (I believe she had a cold earlier in the series), and “we didn’t come to hear solos by her supporting musicians”. Did they not understand the world of live jazz concerts and the role therein of solo instrumental improvisations? The improvisations in the gorgeous and extended “Dancing cheek to cheek” mystified me at times – but I’ll only learn by listening, won’t I? Krall entertained us for around 75 mins, including a couple of encores, and maintained a relaxed rapport with the audience, managing to include a couple of rain-themed songs in her set! Her singing is soft and throaty, and I particularly loved her interpretation of Dylan’s “Simple twist of fate”.
It was a long night – we arrived around 2.30pm, the concert started at 3.30pm and ended around 8.30pm. That’s a long time to be sitting on your behind on picnic chairs, particularly when doing the poncho dance (on-off-on-off) during the intermittent but fortunately not heavy rain. It didn’t spoil our enjoyment of the music though – nor of the gorgeous setting.
Note on the photographs: There was a stage, and we could see the musicians, but the screen did provide better photo opportunities, and hence my shots here are of the performers as we saw them on the screen.
POSTSCRIPT: For a review by a music reviewer/blogger, read Chris Boyd’s here.