Norah Jones & Beth Orton live at iTunes Festival By Greg Rose – Sep 14, 2012
You know the phrase. “She’s got a beautiful voice. I could listen to her sing all night.” It isn’t true. However stunning a set of vocals, you need a little more to sink your teeth into. So it is with Norah Jones. Her voice is utterly gorgeous, husky in the right moments, crystallising the key moments, piercing the high notes.The music is, for the main, dishwater material. Jones’ new album ‘Little Broken Hearts, produced by Danger Mouse, has been hailed as a more edgy departure from the Grammy-fodder. It doesn’t really translate live at the iTunes Festival though. Before Jones wanders onstage at The Roundhouse, there is a brief stint from returning songstress Beth Orton. A rare performance for the elusive singer-songwriter, her reception is lukewarm. Playing alone with acoustic guitar, the fuzz of hundreds of chattering gig-goers somewhat drowns out the intricacies, but she plays with feeling. If nothing else, the set reminds me of the time in the mid-90s when every other good song had William Orbit’s pawprints imprinted on it.
Now to keep up with Jones’ act. Norah and the band are having a good time (in the case of the infuriatingly attention-seeking guitarist, too much of a good time). The singer flits from guitar to keys and back to centre stage, and it all feels very natural and effortless. It’s just a tad tame, with nothing to really hold the attention. When the band depart and Jones goes it alone on the piano, the moment many are waiting for arrives – her breakthrough hit ‘Don’t Know Why’. Again, it is technically flawless, but sung with all of the feeling of someone bored of singing a pretty song. Norah Jones has it in her to be interesting. She has been coaxed into performing with so many fantastic musicians over the years that she compiled all of her collaborations onto a record called ‘…Featuring’ in 2010. With the help of everyone from Dolly Parton to Outkast, Ray Charles to Foo Fighters, Jones can sound inspired. On several memorable moments with Ryan Adams, she’s timeless.
So it’s a shame her own show trudges through the motions, and many of the crowd drift away – some in mind, many in body – long before the curtain call.
Images from iTunes Festival
By Greg Rose. Content Manager. Tweets @greglrose and blogs at greglrose.com