Diana Krall

Concert Hall, January 27

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Diana Krall. Photo supplied.


Who else would lurch from On The Sunny Side Of The Street straight into Tom Waits’ pitch-dark Temptation, or from Neil Finn’s Don’t Dream It’s Over to Just You, Just Me (popularised by Nat King Cole)? Such is the new world order of Diana Krall, who in this performance with her quintet and a sizeable chunk of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra turned her back on her original material to amuse herself by flitting between idioms.

She partially unveiled the new Krall on her last tour, when she finally shrugged aside her on-stage unease. Then she released her pop/rock collection, Wallflower, and now she was having the time of her life performing any song she wants to the way she wants and in whatever order she wants (despite this sometimes leaving the orchestra members scrabbling through their sheet music).

Unsurprisingly in a show that ran from the Mamas & the Papas to Antonio Carlos Jobim, Bix Beiderbecke to Bob Dylan and George Gershwin to the Eagles not everything was of equal quality. The opening We Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye was pretty awful: her voice harsh, the sound not sorted, the band a little ragged and the song showing its wrinkles. But once the orchestra (under Chris Walden) joined for the gentle Do It Again the stars aligned in their musical spheres and the show came into focus.

Let’s Fall In Love and Love Letters showed what Krall does best: soft, breathy, whisper-in-your-ear singing rather than raunch. The highlight was Jobim’s Quiet Nights, sung against a shimmering orchestral arrangement that she flecked with little traces of upper-register piano at the end. The Beatles’ In My Life also worked beautifully at ballad-tempo, although the orchestration was less effective.

Her band retained expert guitarist Anthony Wilson, and had acquired the invaluable Stuart Duncan who could play swinging violin on the jazz songs, offer a thrilling solo on Temptation, and redden his neck to whip out some country fiddle on Desperado and Wallflower.