No two of Diana Krall’s handful of Columbus appearances have been alike, alternately emphasizing her skills as a pianist, singer and entertainer and showcasing an ever-evolving songbook. Last night in the Palace Theatre, Krall’s restless creativity reached further still.
Traveling in support of her Glad Rag Doll, she focused on material largely created before the last century had made half its mark on musical and cultural history. Many of the tunes she heard at home on her father’s old gramophone, which last night kept her company from stage left.
Unsurprising given her broad taste, the program ranged from a sentimental hit for Bing Crosby to a couple of jazz workouts from her heroes Nat “King” Cole and Fats Waller; from well-worn classics such asSunny Side Of The Street to obscurities including the album’s title track.
Stretching the playlist to what might be the breaking point for less-imaginative talents, she masterfully interpreted songs by Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and the Band.
But the presentation was made more comprehensive by a stage designed like an old theater that featured a backdrop of vintage film clips.
Their selection was as ambitious as Krall’s musical choices. Plus, they augmented the emotional tone of the songs, echoed the rhythm and added humor.
Groucho Marx swooned over Margaret Dumont during You Know — I Know Ev’rything’s Made For Love, the only marriage song in a collection often about getting unmarried.
The unusual band, too, partnered Krall’s vision. It included guitar, violin, a rhythm section and even a second pianist, although a second keyboardist seemed unnecessary.
Although it was never less than entertaining and nearly always impressive, the program several times found a magical synergy. Near the end, the group delivered a deeply resonating Boulevard Of Broken Dreams, the familiar tune made darkly, dangerously sexy by Krall’s inspired vocal and detailed with the evening’s best solos. The moment was dramatically completed by the unforgettable footage of George Raft and Carole Lombard dancing to The Magic Of You, from the film Rumba.
Krall continued her exploration through the encore. She returned with Dylan’s Simple Twist Of Fate, embracing the story and remaking the melody. Then she sent the crowd home to dream with Prairie Lullaby, a lovely song she said she sings to her children.