No alarms and no surprises here

Diana Krall, Royal Albert Hall, London



"The JK Rowling of jazz" was how the deliriously successful chanteuse was once memorably described, and occasionally the demure Diana Krall's brand of dinner jazz is almost offensively inoffensive, music to grace shopping mall lifts and smooth radio stations.

Her breathy, occasionally husky, contralto is controlled and accomplished, but it never feels sassy or passionate. Which is a problem as tonight the 47-year-old is showcasing some sassy and passionate romantic ballads, mainly from the 1920s and 1930s, in a performance that recalls the time of speakeasies, Ziegfeld follies and flapper dresses. Most of the tracks are from Glad Rag Doll, a new T-Bone Burnett-produced album where Mrs Elvis Costello appears on the cover leaning back in a basque, stockings and suspenders. She's doesn't replicate this look on stage.

Her generous show begins on a back projection with Steve Buscemi - who excels as gangster Nucky Thompson in Boardwalk Empire - murdering "When the Curtain Comes Down". Krall's arrival can't come quickly enough, frankly, and she starts solidly with "We Just Couldn't Say Goodbye", followed by Bix Beiderbecke's tangy "There Ain't No Man Who's Worth the Salt of My Tears".

Krall's taste in material has always been immaculate, as evidenced further tonight by her covers (she only really does covers) of Bob Dylan's "A Simple of Twist", which she nimbly twists into a sort of Randy Newman-esque lament, and Tom Wait's lascivious "Temptation".

The Canadian is clearly a virtuoso jazz pianist, and the highlight here is four solo tracks played on an 1890 Steinway upright piano. She performs them with her back to the audience ("Just making sure my skirt's still there," she jokes as she readjusts herself at one point) and is endearing company, informing us she's a "coal miner's grand-daughter" used to performing for her family and confessing her love of Fats Waller.

However, too often her renditions have a monotone feel, they're suffocating even; she never appears to totally let rip. She's moderately raucous on "Lonely Avenue" and boisterous-ish on Nat King Cole's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams", but she fails to replicate Marilyn Monroe's effortless perkiness on "Running Wild" (from Some Like It Hot) and cannot match Betty James's robust raunchiness on "I'm a Little Mixed Up". There are no alarms and no surprises here.

The concert feels part recital, part lullabies, part experimentation, and to distract us and jazz it all (sorry) up we're bombarded with images of silent films, the puppet series Stingray (because "I have kids... and I'm a kid too") and The Clangers. The baffling distractions don't really work; she works better unembellished, when she keeps it

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk