Norah Jones at Dodge Theatre: Hmmm... Just So-So

"This place is BIG," said Norah Jones in a self-effacing way to the nearly packed house at Dodge Theatre. The way she delivered the statement made it sound like she wasn't worthy of playing such a fancy concert hall.

Turns out it was half-true.

Wearing an electric-green dress and yellow pumps, the 31-year-old songstress and her five-piece band dedicated a good part of the hour-long-plus set to material from her new record, The Fall. While each of her albums have progressively moved toward a neo adult-contemporary sound, the upbeat tunes she showcased from The Fall took that trend to the next level. The result? Cheese that sounds like it belongs on a WB show.

Then Jones slowed things down and featured numbers from each of her first three albums. The mood shifted from radio-ready cornball to still-accessible-yet-way-more-original. Her voice, so distinctive and robust, were finally allowed to shine.

Jones, who played electric guitar, keyboard, and piano, succeeded the most when she sat down at the ivories and sang songs with alt-country and cabaret-jazz vibes. One number in particular, the megahit "Don't Know Why" from Jones' debut, stole the show, thanks to a slowed-down approach and beautiful harmonies by backup singer (and show opener) Sasha Dobson. Jones and her crew even gave fair and fun treatments to tunes by The Kinks and Johnny Cash.

With someone with such immense talent, let's hope Jones' next album and future tours sound more like a Billie Holiday/Willie Nelson-influenced jam rather than the soundtrack to a Nickelodeon show about a coming-of-age teenage.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Norah Jones at Dodge Theatre.

Better Than: These singers that try and do the new jazz thing.

Random detail: I didn't know dudes with khaki shorts and penny loafers were into Norah Jones, but these types were out in force at the concert (and I mean all over the freaking place).

Further Listening: Definitely Jones' first album Come Away With Me. Also, in 2006, she did covers of classic country in The Little Willies project. It's fantastic. I suggest checking that out, too.

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Steve Jansen
Contact: Steve Jansen