Sunday, October 12, 2008

Jazzing Up Beijing

Tonight jazz artist Diana Krall celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving with her first concert in Beijing.

The seats weren't completely full at the Beijing Exhibition Center Theater in Xizhimen, but there were about 2,000 fans, mostly foreigners.

A 15-minute walk from the subway station, the venue has Soviet-style architecture, with lots of columns, austere hallways, but actually decent acoustics.

We were all subjected to security checks which were minimal, and I was tempted to buy a bag of microwave popcorn that turned out to have artificial sweetner in it.

The show started about 15 minutes late, with people still filing in. Krall and three other musicians, a bassist, guitarist and drummer came on stage.

She wore a sparkly short-sleeve gold jacket, a black top underneath and jeans as she sat at the piano and periodically flicked her long blond mane back.

For an hour and a half she entertained us with a number of songs, including Let's Fall in Love, Devil May Care, You've Got Me Under your Skin, The Way You Look Tonight, and Miss Wonderful.

Some songs had solo interpretations by each of the musicians, others almost sung straight through. In between she talked to the audience with a wry sense of humour.

Just as she started playing a few chords of a song, someone's mobile phone rang and she stopped and said, "Hello? She's busy now..."

Krall also said Beijing was an amazing city and how she only had two days to explore it. She then explained as they were driving in her car, a man with a cigarette approached them and tried to sell her tickets... to her show.

She said she had to bargain hard...

Later in the show Krall got sentimental. She explained how today is Canadian Thanksgiving and that her husband Elvis Costello is "super dad", looking after their twin sons, Dexter and Frank, and that Elvis was cooking dinner today.

Half way through the show, she started coughing and had a coughing fit. But she drank some water and battled on, singing wonderfully.

After the show ended, they left the stage and got a loud round of applause that got them back on stage for one encore before she said, "We love you Beijing!"

Beijing was the last stop on her Asian tour through Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Hopefully she'll be back again with her sultry voice and fantastic jazz performance.


Anonymous said...

I saw her perform at the Orpheum theatre a few years ago. Her piano was right in the centre of the stage in front of the orchestra and she gave a wonderful and memorbable performance. She showed a great sense of humour and of course, her mother was in the audience.

ks said...

too bad her mother is not with us any more after sccumbing to breast cancer. she had a benefit performance raising money for cancer research here in vancouver in honor of her mother.