Thursday, March 24, 2005

Norah Jones in Manila

It's been almost two weeks, I can't believe I haven't found the time to blog about Norah Jones' fantastic concert last March 12. I'm blaming work, hehe.

But since today's the first of a four-day weekend, surely I could squeeze some minutes to write about the Norah Jones' totally fabulous Manila concert.

So, here goes. To better recall the concert, I'm listening right now to the tape that I recorded during the show. Uh-huh, I managed to sneak in a tape recorder! Haha! So now, I'm listening to the concert again. Trying to relive that nice experience, even if only through a Maxell tape, a casette recorder, and headphones.

So the concert. It was wonderful. Norah and the superb Handsome band performed around 20 songs, nicely filling my tape's 90 minute capacity to the brim (the last song was actually cut halfway).

She started with Turn me On. And the audience was turned on. After the audience's screamin and clappin, she thanked the crowd by saying, "Salamat" (in a Filipino accent), which made the audience clap and scream some more. Then she said, "Hope I said it right."

Haha! She also laughed at that.

She followed with Those Sweet Words. I noticed the drummer used a percussion box-drum for this song. He looked a bit awkward stooped so low tapping his box near its bottom. But that's just my observation and it doesn't matter. What matters is the band sounded great. They even added a touch of mandolin (or whatever that small guitar is called) for a fine folk effect. Nice.

Nightingale was next, and the guitar man (Adam Levy?) did a great job making his guitar cry on this one.

After this song, a guy from the audience yelled, "Turn me on!" Norah made sure she heard him right (replying "What did you say?"). But the man screamed again, requesting, "Turn Me On!"

But Turn Me On was the first song, so she replied, "Turn me on? We already played it. (laughs) I already turned you on!" She then added, "You musta hit traffic on the way. (laughs) Sorry."


And then at this point a guy from far back in the audience cried out, "I love you Noraah!"

"Oh, salamat."

The audience cheered, and the band starts the music for the next song. But the guy from far back wasn't finished yet, and screamed again, this time hoarser (probably from having his throat already damaged from shouting from the far end of Araneta Coliseum).

Loved Norah's reply. She said, "Don't hurt yourself, man," (and got me laughing--haha!) and then she proceeded with the first line of her next song--one of my faves!--What Am I To You.

The Painter Song--with a great mandolin solo--was next. Then it was I've Got To See You Again with a delightfully different flavor. It was more playful and almost danceable, with an extended piano intro and Andy Borger providing playful drums to Adam Levy's ripping guitar riffs.

Next she played a Gram Parsons cover entitled She. It had a melancholy ring to it, but it was really nice. I didn't know how the song originally sounded but this one had Norah written all over it. As American Idol's Paula used to say, she owned it.

After taking the seat behind the electric keyboard and introducing that the next song was written by Adam Levy, she went on to In the Morning, which gave me a happy surprise. The drummer Andy Borger went crazy! With his playful and passionate improvisation, he really shined on this one. The audience loved it too. With a shower of applause and cheers, they were quick to acknowledge his brilliant drumming.

Then Norah moved again to the grand piano (as part of what Moti and I called her choreography for the night, i.e. moving between her two keyboards! Well, later, she'll prove us wrong.) Anyway, before starting her next song, she remarked about the big projector screens beside the stage. "Can't stop looking at that. It's creeping me out."


Then, she raised her arms chest level and waved them in front of her while checking herself on one of the big screens. Seeing her making fun of herself, it was really funny.

"It's very distracting," she said as she laughed with the audience.

Next, she charmed the audience with Carnival Town. Daru Oda, her backup singer (and friend since 15, Norah later told), added a touch of flute, making the song lovelier.

Now for the next one, Norah was going to be solo for the first time--just her and the piano. But just as she was about to mouth the song's first words, she paused, apparently distracted by something pesky flying about her and so instead said, "A mosquito..."

The audience can only laugh. Hehe.

So Norah just said, "This is for the mosquito." The song was The Nearness of You.

The mosquito must have really bugged her, because at another time during the song, she just paused and appeared to be distracted. But she kept on with it, giving a performance full of emotion, singing with a heartfelt voice that just tugs at the heartstrings!

Then next were songs without her playing the piano: the slow but beautifully sung Humble Me; Long Way Home, which got the audience clapping to the beat; and Don't Know Why versions 1 and 2. The first version was the one we all know too well, but the second one, well, it was the first time I heard it.

Norah said she sang that one on Sesame Street with Elmo. Turned out it's got a bit of a history:

"I've got a date, though, with the letter 'Y'," she began. "But he stood me up... "

A big sigh from the audience.

"Yeah, he didn't show. No show..."

Another sigh.

Then Norah said, "Did you say why? Why? He was hanging out with his X!"


"That's a stupid joke. That's a bad joke," Norah just added.


But there's more. "So I looked sad. Elmo was worried about me," Norah said. "He said 'What's wrong?' I said, "I waited till I saw the sun, Elmo..." Then Norah sang, "Don't know 'Y' didn't come."


"Hey they wrote it, not me," was Norah's excuse. "I though we'd meet / and have some fun / Spelling words like yogurt and yum," she continued to sing.

Hahaha, more laughter from the crowd.

"That was fun / but he didn't come," she added. "That's OK, 'cause I hung out with Elmo. We had some beers..."

Haha, got me laughing out loud!

Then she went back to business, proceeding with the jolly country Creepin' In, where Daru stood in for Dolly Parton, and guitar man Robbie Mcintosh provided some mean guitar solos; and a powerfully played Above Ground.

Then it's back to the piano for Norah, giving out Sunrise and a lovely rendition of Come Away with Me. (Her most popular songs! The show must be nearing it's end. Noooo!)

And soon after, she was saying goodbye. She thanked the audience and said she hopes to spend more time here next time.

Then, her last song was up. It was a cover of Life is a Carnival by The Band. I really didn't know the song, but it was great. And it was cool because Norah did a bit of dancing, too.

She gave the audience about one minute to scream "Moooore!" and cheer and hoot, and then did not dissapoint by showing up again on stage.

"I hear a lot of high-pitched screams," she remarked. "That means a lot of ladies are here; they brought their boyfriends (laughs)."


To close the night, she sang Seven Years, Lonestar, and a cover called Ooh Las Vegas, a song they only play for their "cool" audiences. Yeah!

Druing the concert, I sooo wanted to sing along with her. And actually at times caught myself doing so. But I'd stop as soon as I realized I was singing, because nobody else was. And anyway, it would just probably ruin the experience of listening to and feeling Norah's beautiful voice. So there, I restrained myself, but, still while wishing that a chunk of the audience would start singing already so we could all sing together! Well, it didn't happen. But it's OK. Norah was here, with her band, singing, and playing, and talking and joking around! It was an awesome night.

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