Krall Keeps It Personal at Massey Hall
by Jane Stevenson
Toronto Sun, May 1, 2009
"Diana Krall, the devoted wife and mother, made a major appearance on Thursday night during the first of the jazz-pop singer-pianist's two back-to-back sold-out shows at Massey Hall.
In fact, I've never seen the 44-year-old so forthcoming, funny, loose and vulnerable about her personal life during a concert performance.
Clearly, marriage and motherhood agrees with the Nanaimo, B.C., native who explained she has her two-and-a-half twin boys -- Dexter and Frank -- in tow with her on the tour bus as she makes her way across the country in support of her latest album, the bossa-nova dominated Quiet Nights.
Krall said Dexter had even pointed out what he thought were mommy's tour buses until she corrected him.
"Those are Slipknot's buses -- stay away from them," she said to silence before joking. "So no one at my show knows who Slipknot is."
For the record, mother and children spent the day looking at dinosaurs at the ROM and later jumped in puddles.
Sadly, her husband Elvis Costello was en route to London on Thursday night.
"I love my husband," said Krall, by way of introducing one of his favourite songs, I've Grown Accustomed To His Face, that she was about to perform.
"And he loves Canada. We get to spend a lot of time together -- NOT! Yeah, it sucks. But I'll see him soon."
At that point, Krall got a little choked up. But not for long.
Krall later joked that her knowledge of obscure pop culture -- in this case Pete Kelly's Blues for which one of her favourite composers, Peggy Lee, got an Oscar nomination -- never made her any friends in Grade 8, but she was now having the last laugh.
"They were listening to Elvis Costello," she said of her aloof schoolmates before adding with a grin: "But I married the rock star."
Backed by the accomplished trio of drummer Jeff Hamilton, bassist Robert Hurst and guitarist Anthony Wilson -- who all broke out solos early and often including one featuring Hurst using a bow on his instrument -- and the 45-piece Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Alan Broadbent, Krall took her place at the piano at the beginning of her hour-and-45-minute performance and never left her stool.
And while her piano playing is far superior to her vocals -- her deep husky voice is certainly sexy but doesn't have much range or strength -- Krall can certainly sell a song as she did on such highlights as I Love Being Here With You, 'Deed I Do, the title track from Quiet Nights, Love Letters, Walk On By, I Don't Know Enough About You and The Look Of Love.
She even threw in a moving cover of Joni Mitchell's A Case Of You, accompanying just herself on piano, and explained that she was playing Pick Yourself Up, a favourite of her late mother's, once again after hearing U.S. President Barack Obama use the phrase in his Inauguration speech.
Krall also admitted to dancing on a bar with guitarist Wilson drunkenly in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the night that Obama was elected president and getting critiqued by a piano player in a stuffy club in Washington -- even she was required to wear a tie -- after playing for Obama at a tribute to Stevie Wonder.
For the record, the piano player said she could improve her left hand playing, make better use of the piano pedals and show more leg.
"You're laughing, but I wasn't laughing," said Krall.
So maybe she didn't take the guy's advice to heart, but she's clearly lightened up as a performer and it suits her."