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Concert Review: Krall's approach a bit jarring

The talented performer delivers ornate multimedia with informal chat. And the overpowering silent screen images don't always fit the music.

April 07, 2014|By Michael Miller
  • Singer and pianist Diana Krall performed at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts on Saturday.
Singer and pianist Diana Krall performed at the Segerstrom… (Mark Seliger )

The most thought-provoking moment of Diana Krall's performance Saturday at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts came at the end, when the singer cranked up a 78 rpm disc on an old record player before leaving the stage.

As she prepared to set the needle, several audience members ignored an earlier request by the venue to put cellphones away and stood to record the moment. Considering that the show leaned heavily on music and film from nearly a century ago, it was poignant to imagine the day when iPhones become antiquated too — and the footage captured on those devices becomes a relic from a bygone time preserving an artifact from a time even older.

That moment, however unintentional, made a deft transition from the Jazz Age to modern times. Unfortunately, it wasn't the only time the performance seemed torn between two worlds. Often, the program felt like a pair of wildly different shows — one a carefully coordinated multimedia presentation, the other an informal sit-down with a headliner willing to improvise — that competed for space on a single stage.

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The concept for Krall's "Glad Rag Doll" tour, which supports her 2012 album of pop and jazz covers, is brilliant on the surface. Krall and her five-piece band performed most of the songs under projected video clips from the silent era, and the stage, which featured two layers of star-spangled curtains and a similarly illuminated crescent moon on the side, seemed to have been lifted straight from vaudeville.

The show's most elaborate number was its first, a video presentation in which Krall dueted with actor Steve Buscemi, decked out in a black suit and derby, on the 1920s standard "When the Curtain Comes Down." Buscemi, recently famous for playing a Prohibition-era rogue on HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," dug into the song with relish, and as an opener, the number promised an evening in which the aural and visual components would play tightly off each other.

Much of the time, though, the performance took a far looser approach — the kind that might inspire a title like "An Evening with Diana Krall," with the singer joking, chatting with the crowd and alternating songs with rambling anecdotes. A show like that can be delightful, but the combination of the ornate format and Krall's relaxed demeanor meant that the Segerstrom performance constantly struggled to find a flow.

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