Norah sees her past.
Review and Photos by Barry Brecheisen"I'm just sitting here waiting for you to come home and turn me on", Norah Jones vocalized to the House of Blues crowd during a beautiful Tuesday night in Chicago. Opening with her own bluesy version of J.D. Loudermilk's "Turn Me On," she did just that. It's hard not to be smitten by the curvy 23 year old pianist with her flowing charcoal hair and almond shaped eyes that you could fall into for days. Bathed in red and blue light, Nora proved to the crowd that she is every bit deserving of the buzz that has surrounded her since the CD, Come Away With Me was released earlier this year. Dressed all in black, Nora sat at a Steinway piano seducing the crowd one song at a time with her own mixture of jazz, country and pop tunes. Sounds like an odd combination, but she pulls it off beautifully with a little help by her 3-piece band. It seems like she was destined to play music when you learn she is the offspring of none other than the legendary sitarist, Ravi Shankar.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Dallas you can hear influences from the jazz great Billie Holiday to the soulful Nina Simone. "I'm really excited," Norah confessed to the crowd six songs into her set. "The last time I sung "Lonestar" was a duet with Willie Nelson. Not sure why I'm telling you this but it was cool." There's something fragile but beautifully real about her. Her sound is strongly reminiscent of the past, but it's in the delivery that she makes it her own. At times, you can hear a Rickie Lee Jones with a little Sheryl Crow thrown in for extra spice. During "I Got To See You Again," Norah's sultriness is exposed, yet reserved. As Adam Levy added a little slide guitar to the tune, Norah's hands left the keys to make little finger gestures in the air to the steady drum beat. By the end of the evening, Norah and the gang offered up 18-songs including many from her new CD and even a few new ones that are so fresh they don't even have a title yet. "This is the last night of our tour," revealed Norah. "Thanks for making it so special for us," she proclaimed before treating us to a surprise cover of The Band's "Bessie Smith." Back for a two-song encore, the band goes right into the Patsy Cline classic, "Crazy." Drummer Dan Rieser brings out the brushes to help deliver a rather faithful version. Just like on her CD, Norah closed with "The Nearness of You." "It's not the pale moon that excites me," Norah declared with the opening lyrics. "Sing it girl," an over zealous female fan shouted out. Nora paused, smiled as the crowd broke into applause.
Norah Jones is a breath of fresh air and a welcome break from all the nu-metal that dominates the radio. It's nice to have a newcomer that is both elegant and classy showcased at Chicago's House of Blues.
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