Diana Krall @ Meadowbrook

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Diana Krall - Photo by Michael Witthaus

Though threatening skies didn’t open up, Diana Krall still had to contend with nature Friday night in Gilford.  Every bullfrog, cricket and critter in the Lakes Region seemed to stir during the quiet moments of her sublime, two-hour set.

Considering Krall’s appearance was in support of a new release called “Quiet Nights,” this occasionally proved problematic.

“I … just … want … silence,” sighed Krall at one point.  “I’m going to meditate on that.”  Despite the intrusions, Krall was in fine form and good humor throughout.

As she prepared to play a Nat King Cole song, a baby’s cry broke through the darkness. Responding to a sound perhaps more familiar to the New York City-dweller and recent mother of twins, she switched up and played a few bars of “When You Wish Upon A Star,” calling it her “Jiminy Cricket” moment.

She then launched into “Deed I Do,” from her 1996 Cole tribute “All For You,” and never looked back. Diana Krall is the proverbial whole package, combining wit, charm and a raw talent that few musicians can match.

She’s able to shape her voice to not only match the mood of whatever song she’s playing, but to unearth previously undetected nuance and meaning.  While there may be more technically proficient piano players around, none owns their instrument quite like Krall.

When she cut loose, on Irving Berlin’s “Cheek to Cheek” (from her recent “Live in Rio” DVD), or the show closing “I Don’t Know Enough About You,” she was utterly, jaw-droppingly sensational.

The chemistry between Krall and her band – guitarist Tony Wilson, drummer Jeff Hamilton and bass player Robert Hurst – was stunning.  When Krall leaned back from her piano to watch Hurst bow his upright bass or take in one of Wilson’s many amazing solos, it was clear she was having as much fun as the audience.

Other highlights included the sultry “Where Or When” and the title track from “Quiet Nights,” as well as the early favorites “Peel Me A Grape” and the bouncy, buoyant “Let’s Fall In Love.”

Both Krall’s latest CD and DVD are elaborate productions, layered with orchestral flourishes and bright studio wizardry.  But Friday, it was simply Krall and her band on a sparsely furnished stage, lit by moody blue lights.  She nearly succeeded in shrinking the Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion down to the size of a smoky Lower Manhattan jazz club.

Almost.

The crowd behaved with polite deference, but the insects didn’t quite cooperate.  “It’s a bug’s life up here,” joked Krall after one of them bit her leg mid-song.  Though it was undoubtedly one of the most superlative shows the comfy shed had witnessed, the music was a little too quiet for the rustic amphitheatre.

No complaints about the music, or for that matter the venue, which is by far the best for (most) outdoor music in all of New England.  But next time through, let’s hope Diana Krall plays a smaller room, charging twice as much, for half as many fans.

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