I would be lying if I say that I am a great Norah Jones fan! She is someone I got to know of as an artist who won a shit-load of Grammys AND has an Indian connection (daughter of Indian sitar maestro Ravi Shankar with American concert producer Sue Jones). So, with a lot of anticipation I dived into her acclaimed debut album Come Away with Me back in 2002-03 when I was 18-19 something and heavily into the Metallicas and Iron Maidens of the musical world. Needless to say, my enthusiasm was politely quietened; I had no doubt she was a great artist but also realized that I was not ready for such mellow and soulful music yet, just too much hormones in the system! I still had a soft corner for her but for the time-being relegated her to the treasure-chest-for-the-future. Fast-forward to 2016, when I was Ticketmaster-notified that she was touring in support of her new album Day Break, I knew it was time to open that treasure chest. And I truly felt that, because I didn’t dither on buying the ticket, snapped it up as soon as they went on general public sales and got the best one available at that point of time (which wasn’t crazy expensive either so that helped).
Now October 2016 has been a very hectic month concert-wise (8 concerts including the mega-festival Desert Trip and mini-festival Bridge School Benefit concert). What that meant was I didn’t have a lot of time to start exploring her music in the first place, actually 1 week to be exact. So as soon as I was done with the previous concert (Jethro Tull by Ian Anderson) I immediately looked up her current tour’s setlist, created a YouTube playlist and got down to doing my homework. And this time it was different, really different; you can actually gauge how much you have grown, at least musically, by re-listening to artists you had loved and those you didn’t like as much before. What had seemed mellow previously sounded like control and mastery now (on the other hand what I had previously loved as aggression and energy has started to sound a little hollow and directionless now). Another thing I noticed in the fan-recorded concert videos of her gigs is that she seems like a really nice and warm and a little awkward person, which coupled with the fact that she sang like a dream made her seem very endearing and enticing. So, after around 14 years, I felt the same sense of anticipation again, for Norah Jones.
The concert was on a Friday and a pretty hectic one at that. After finishing up on all the east-coast client calls from home I had to go to my office at 3 PM for a meeting, was planning to attend an Alien convention after that at 4:30 PM (AlienCon 2016 at Santa Clara, CA) before finally driving through the evening office traffic to Oakland which is about an hour away on a good day. The concert was supposed to start at 8 PM and it was in a venue that I had never been to before, which meant I was going to have parking woes! And did I tell you about my battery-dead car which was going to get me through this day? Well, can’t miss Norah Jones so finally got the old battery replaced in the morning (was hoping the car will run after jump-starting it but when that failed knew I had no options and no time either)!
Somehow I made it through the day, and finally landed at Paramount Theater at 8:15 PM. As I entered I was blown away by the decor and ambiance of the place, like something out of the roaring 20s and actually reminded me of the Empire State Building. Anyway, thankfully there was an opening act that I didn’t bother with as I had to first get a t-shirt and then get something to eat (was super-hungry). Unfortunately, none of the t-shirts had the tour dates and if that is the case I usually don’t get any but again made a concession for Norah Jones and grabbed one for $25/- (which did help again)! However, there was practically nothing to eat, though lots to drink! I grabbed a Hershey’s chocolate, two small chips and a Coke (another “dry” 2016 concert) after waiting in line for around 20 mins and headed out to my seat. Here I was in for a pleasant surprise because when I showed my ticket to the usher he exclaimed “Oh, good seat!” and as I kept walking through the rows of the auditorium sized venue to the fourth row, I was like “Wow, these must be the best seats I have ever got in any concert!” But that also spurred another thought, “How did I get such good seat? Isn’t she very popular, as in mad-scramble-to-get-tickets popular?” Looking around, the hall seemed pretty full; I guess her audience are a bit mellow and peace-loving too, just like her!
And then finally around 9:15 PM she came on stage, waved to the crowd, said a Hi, sat down and started singing and playing Day Break, her first song of the night, on the piano without further ado. And oh, such heavenly voice, such adroit fingers on the piano, such fresh and beguiling charm and such such a talent! As I was listening to her songs through the week I had started to comprehend the allure of her simple and yet highly polished talent, some songs of her new album like Day Break and Flipside were on the edgier side whereas Sunrise, My Dear Country and Carry On were pure drops of honey and nectar! I felt she doesn’t deviate very drastically from her style but each deviation is a fresh discovery while still being very Norah Jones. Another funny thing to observe was her awkward reactions to sudden yells of some fan expressing love, admiration and acknowledgement of her talent, she managed a look out to her audience with an embarrassed smile and maybe a word or two. Even when the encore ended, the speed at which the troupe exited the stage after the bow was characteristic Norah Jones and it wasn’t in the least bit offensive, rather a confirmation of this beautifully talented and politely private artist of this current age of social-overdose.
- Concert#: 107
- Season: 2016
- Date: 28-September-2016
- Band/Artist: Norah Jones
- Tour Name: Day Break
- Opening acts: Valerie June
- Venue: Paramount Theater of Performing Arts
- City: Oakland, CA
- Setlist: Norah Jones @ Oakland, CA – 28-Sep-2016
- Fun Fact: Attended an Alien Convention before the concert!
- My Concert Quotient: 4/5