Norah Jones at the Bowl

The Songbird at the Santa Barbara Bowl Tuesday Night

Last week, chanteuse Norah Jones wooed a capacity audience at the Bowl with her disarming vocals and solid musicianship. Although it was one of the last stops on her tour for The Fall, her fourth studio album, Jones and her band performed with a freshness and pluck that belied their lengthy time on the road.

Clad in a vibrant yellow, spaghetti-strap dress and sky-high peep-toe heels, Jones got right down to business when she took the stage, kicking the set off with “I Wouldn’t Need You” from The Fall. The next six songs were also from The Fall and included the album’s first single, the lively “Chasing Pirates,” as well as the mournful “Light as a Feather,” which Jones cowrote with Ryan Adams.

Norah Jones wooed the crowd with her cheerful banter and sultry voice during her headlining set last Tuesday night at the Santa Barbara Bowl.
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Norah Jones wooed the crowd with her cheerful banter and sultry voice during her headlining set last Tuesday night at the Santa Barbara Bowl.

In between numbers, Jones bantered cheerily with the crowd, teasing one enthusiastic fan about being the lone dancer in the audience during the song “Broken.” “I like your commitment,” Jones giggled. Although lighthearted in her interactions, loneliness and heartache were prevalent in her songs—particularly those from The Fall.

At one point in the concert, Jones asked the audience, “You guys want to hear a song about bull riding?” to which the fans hooted approval. “Any of you bull riders?” she continued, eliciting a giant roar from the crowd. “Really?” Jones asked. “I’m from Texas, and we don’t have that many bull riders,” she said, laughing. “Okay, I believe you. You guys got a corner on bull riding,” she teased before she and bandmate Sasha Dobson dueted on the honky-tonk Johnny Cash cover “Bull Rider.”

Other highlights of the show included the effervescent “Man of the Hour,” a song about why a dog is better than a boyfriend, which Jones played on a plinky, slightly out-of-tune piano, and the toe-tapping “Creepin’ In,” which was done acoustically with the entire band gathered around an old-fashioned radio microphone. Also memorable was “Come Away with Me,” which Jones reinterpreted for solo piano and three-part harmony.

With her sultry, slightly raspy voice, and using just the right amount of crescendo and then retreat in her phrasing, Jones is capable of wrapping the listener in emotion, whether it be whimsy, such as on “Sunrise” (Feels Like Home), or sorrow, like on The Fall’s “Back to Manhattan” and “Waiting.” And on a warm August evening, during an hour-and-a-half concert in one of her “favorite places to play,” Jones proved why she is a siren of the airwaves, enchanting all who hear her.

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