The first time I saw Norah Jones live was March 2002 at Variety Playhouse in Atlanta. Her debut album, Come Away with Me, had just been released and had yet to spiral into the Grammy-winning, sales behemoth that it would ultimately become. With a 1000-seat capacity, Variety Playhouse was the largest venue she had played to date, and her nerves were getting the best of her. Alone with the piano, the magnitude of the audience was a little too much for her fingers to process, but once she shoved her nerves to the backseat, she was absolutely flawless.
That night has gone down as one of the top ten concerts I’ve ever attended. Norah was boiled down to her essence. There were no distractions, nothing to cover up the mistakes. Her talent was on display, and it was blinding. So how do you top an evening like that? Curiously, for me, you don’t attend another Norah Jones show for ten years. I guess I wanted to preserve the sanctity of the evening, or perhaps it was failing to be bowled over by her subsequent album releases. All that changed with Little Broken Hearts.
Her latest album is an interesting evolution of Norah’s sound. With Little Broken Hearts, she brought in Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley) to produce a breakup album for the ages. This puppy is dark, at times disturbing, dripping with heartache, yet above all, beautiful. Its like she finally put all of the pieces together to see what life away from the piano bench was like.
Much to my delight, she brought Little Broken Hearts to the Fox Theater Saturday night. When I say she brought it, she basically played it cover-to-cover. I have to say if I were to release an record as accomplished as this one, I’d probably put the rest of the albums back in their dust jackets as well. In all, seven of the nineteen song set were drawn from the new album, and it essentially controlled the first half of the evening.
The stage was setup underneath a flock of origami birds, suspended from the rafters by strings of lights. Behind the band was a curtain of many colors that seemed to do its chameleon dance based on the mood of the track in play. As for Norah, she largely traded in her baby grand for a standing keyboard. She also manned the guitar for at least one third of the set.
The evening began, as does the album, with “Good Morning.” The sleepy track with its twilight haze seemed a good stepping stone for what was ahead. Her first departure from Little Broken Hearts came with The Fall‘s “Even Though” which eerily sounds like it could have made a home on her newest album.
Norah didn’t interact with the audience much. She introduced “Man of the Hour” as a song about her dog. Someone from the balcony yelled out “Marry Me” at one point to which she gave a quizzical look and said “I wish I understood what you said. The other night someone said something about a hot tub.” While it would be nice for her to have a VH1 Storytellers moment, letting the songs speak for themselves and leaving a little something for the imagination certainly comes with its own merits.
Ms. Jones’ back catalog came more into play during the back half of the set. The audience erupted as she started “Don’t Know Why.” I’d love to knock them for gushing over her biggest hit 10 years ago, but the song is still amazing. She can still give you chills with the song’s simplicity and unvarnished beauty. She did take on a few covers. She credited her new band with turning her onto the Dead, and they played a moving “It Must Have Been the Roses.” She also pulled out producer Danger Mouse’s tune, “Black.”
For the encore the full band gathered around a lone microphone perched at the front of the stage like some old barbershop quartet. They took on her duet with Dolly Parton, “Creppin’ In,” and a new song, “How Many Times Have You Broken My Heart.” It was a nice way to close the evening.
Norah Jones is a special talent. Her voice is as crystal clear as it was at 23. It just slides effortlessly off her tongue. For those with tickets, as well as those still mulling over whether or not to see her on the Little Broken Hearts tour, the best advice I can give you is pop in the new disk and give it a few spins around the block. Kick your shoes off and get comfortable with the heartbreak. Its as fresh as she’s sounded in years, and performed live, it is every bit as tasty.
Norah Jones Setlist : Fox Theater in Atlanta, GA
June 23, 2012
Take It Back
Little Broken Hearts
All a Dream
It Must Have Been the Roses (Grateful Dead)
Black (Danger Mouse)
Man of the Hour
Don’t Know Why
Come Away with Me
How Many Times Have You Broken My Heart
‘Good Morning’ is the perfect forward for an album about a breakup. The pain of lost love is strongly felt as Norah sings of giving in, giving up, and moving on with her life. It’s a quick and gentle coo of resignation, and if the rest of the album had a similar perspective on breakups, it may be perfect.
From there she gets a little more playful, and though the tone is different, the tale of ‘Say Goodbye’ is exactly the same. However, her attitude about it changes sharply, into a mess of emotions and a strong sense of bitterness. This is how things remain for the rest of Little Broken Hearts. As much as she might insist that she is moving on, the stain of regret, and even a tinge of venom in her voice, suggest that she really doesn’t want to. The album sticks with this outlook the whole way through.
Norah Jones has deserved her identity as something of an old soul, wise beyond her years–though she is now 33–and musically very mature, but Little Broken Hearts has an awkward demeanor of emotional immaturity. It has the feeling of a record written directly to an ex-lover, as if in an attempt to continue a long lost argument, to simultaneously defeat them and win them back. “You always liked my songs,” she sings, and she litters the album with not-so-subtle jabs and tests like, “Does she make you happy?” and, “You tried to replace me, but you didn’t get far.”
But maybe that’s the point. She says it’s not entirely a true story, but that it was inspired by a real breakup, and the phases one goes through during such a difficult transition. It’s not entirely clear how much of this is fiction or whether Norah has worked through that process yet, but there is really only one phase being showcased on this recording, which is an almost vengeful denial
This is a new kind of Norah Jones album in a couple of ways. First, because she’s never really gone to very dark places with love. Second, her sound is refocused on a new style which slips quietly away from her jazz roots. The music is fresh, staying true to Norah and her strengths, but with a more current approach and less of the sometimes hokey production of her past work. She collaborated with Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley, Broken Bells) and they appear to have found a great synergy between their styles.
The beautiful thing about the song ‘Little Broken Hearts’ is that it’s not quite as in-your-face direct with the subject matter, and though it’s the very same story told on every track, the imagery is more powerful when it’s a little less specific, allowing one to feel a part of that emotional landscape without necessarily being indoctrinated to Norah’s perspective on the affair. Which is to say, it’s less whiney.
‘Out On the Road’ seems, as the album’s ninth track, like it may finally be that much needed song about getting over her loss, but while she sings about finding direction and driving off to paradise, she slips in, “Guess I’ll have to love you from afar.”
If ‘Good Morning’ were the last song on the tracklist, instead of the first, it would have given the album a flawlessly heart-wrenching conclusion, not ignoring the pain and regret, but looking forward and really moving on. Instead, the album feels almost uncomfortably stubborn, and often a little catty.
There is much to be said though for just how open and vulnerable Norah makes herself with the predominantly very straightforward offerings on this album. Certainly, if you’re going through anything similar to this yourself, or if you want to dwell a bit in older pain, Little Broken Hearts is a companion for brooding equal to a bottle of bourbon and an old photo album.
Since announcing her upcoming fifth studio album, Norah Jones has confirmed a handful of dates for a tour to support the album, and now she has released the full itinerary of dates that will begin later this spring and keep her on the road for most of the summer.
In addition to previously announced dates in Rochester, N.Y. and the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, Jones will play most regions of the United States and Canada, and also has scheduled a few European dates at the beginning and in the middle of the tour.
The jaunt will kick off May 25 in Paris, France, and the first North American dates will be June 20 in Indianapolis, Ind. The tour will run through August 23 when she plays Red Rocks in Denver. Other cities on the tour include Memphis, Tenn.; Atlanta; Nashville; Toronto; Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.
Little Broken Hearts, Jones upcoming album, will be released prior to the tour on May 1 and was produced by Danger Mouse. The in-demand producer, also known as Brian Burton, first worked with Jones when she sang on the Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi album Rome. That project was based on the music of spaghetti westerns and inspired the two to work together on Little Broken Hearts.
Though she hasn’t released an official studio solo album since 2009’s The Fall, Jones has kept plenty busy in the meantime. In 2010 she released …Featuring, a compilation album of duets with other artists. And earlier this year, her country side project The Little Willies released a sophomore album called For the Good Times.
This year also marks the tenth anniversary of Come Away With Me, Jones’ breakthrough debut album that sold over 10 million copies and featured the single “Don’t Know Why.” The album eventually earned eight Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.
This year’s South By Southwest lineup seems to be growing by the day, and Nas, T.I. and Norah Jones are the latest additions to the list. The festival will be held March 13-18 in Austin, Texas, and the lineup is likely to grow almost until the first day. Often, the biggest artists aren’t announced until a few days before the festival begins. Other notable recent additions include Santigold, GZA, B.o.B., The Cult, Jimmy Cliff, Tom Morello, Ben Kweller, Keane and Kaiser Chiefs.
Norah Jones will play three shows at the festival, and is expected to preview songs from her upcoming album, Little Broken Hearts, which will be released May 1. She will play her own songs on March 17 at La Zona Rosa, and will play twice on March 15 with her country band, The Little Willies. Little Broken Hearts is produced by in-demand producer Danger Mouse, and inspired by the music of spaghetti westerns. Though Jones has announced a handful of dates throughout the summer, a more extensive set of dates is expected soon.
Both Nas and T.I. are expected to release albums this year, though no official dates have been set for either as of yet. T.I.’ s upcoming album reportedly is called Trouble Man.
The first South By Southwest festival was held in 1987 and planned as a regional event. More than 700 attendees showed up to that festival, and it soon grew into the national and international festival it is now. In addition to music, there are also interactive and film portions of the festival. The interactive portion runs from March 9-13, while the film festival spans from March 9-17. The interactive portion of the festival concerns multimedia interests, such as mobile games and apps. It is now the most attended portion of the festival, and it is estimated that 20,000 people attended this portion last year.
Norah Jones and Jack White have been recruited by Danger Mouse to sing on the upcoming collaboration album of his with Daniele Luppi, Italian composer.
Brian Burton, the producer’s real name, and Luppi are calling their album “Rome.” Over the last five years the two have teamed up during various times in Italy’s capital to record the set.
The pair says they recorded the album at Forum studios, which is a converted church. The set was inspired by Italian film soundtracks from the 1960s.
The track listing and release date haven’t be revealed yet. However Burton did explain why he has asked White and Jones to help with the lead vocals.
He said, I wanted definitely to have a woman and man. The female vocals need to be soft and not polarizing. However the male needs to have more angst.
When I was touring right after the first session, I played some music from the set for Jack White to show him what we were up to. He liked it. However at the time we weren’t thinking of him being on the album. It’s Jack White, you know.
However finally I thought, he really likes it. So why not? Jack tried doing different voices- low voice, high voice. I thought, why not just leave all of them in? On the track “Rose With The Broken Neck,” there are a bunch of Jack’s vocals. They don’t all sound like him.
In addition Danger Mouse also has been working on U2′s new album, which has the tentative tile of “Songs of Ascent.”
Danger Mouse this year has been touring as well with James Mercer from The Shins in Broken Bells.
Norah Jones has indeed established herself as one of the most talented, versatile and creative acts in music, both as a solo artist and as a collaborator. As a matter of fact, Jones has teamed up with almost every act in the industry, regardless of genre and record label.
On November 2, the soulful artist will release “…Featuring” which contains some of the artist’s best collaborations. Among those featured in the upcoming set are music icons Ray Charles (“Here We Go Again”) and Dolly Parton (“Creepin’ In”), hip-hop acts Outkast (“Take Off Your Cool”) and Q-Tip (“Life is Better”), alt-rock icons Foo Fighters (“Virginia Moon”), and Scottish act Belle and Sebastian (“Little Lou, Prophet Jack, Ugly John”) who Jones considers as one of her favorites, to name a few.
In a press release, Jones describes her music collaboration efforts as a creative and exciting venture that “takes you a little bit out of your comfort zone… You don’t know what to expect — it’s kind of like being a little kid and having a play date.”
Meanwhile, Jones will face the scorching summer heat on the road as she continues to tackle her west coast trek. On October 2, she will be in Milwaukee, WI for the Farm Aid gig along with Willie Nelson, whose duet with Jones, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” also appears in the latter’s upcoming release. Jones will also perform in the August 31 episode of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”.
Two years ago, Ben Chace, filmmaker, won a raffle. His prize was a free Jamaican cruise. He invited Sam Fleischner, a friend of his, to go with him and decided to make a film on the trip. Tickets were purchased for a sound man as well as the star of the film, songerwriter/singer Sean “Bone” Sullivan. Chace and Fleischner then took off for Jamaica from a ship in Brooklyn for their week long cruise. The film Wah Do Dem was the result, featuring favorite musicians both on the soundtrack as well as actors.
The film focuses on Max (played by Sullivan), a skateboarder from Brooklyn, who wins a free Jamaican trip. He plans to take Willow (played by Norah Jones), his girlfriend. However just two days before the trip she dumps him. Max goes on the cruise by himself. He gets lost eventually and doesn’t have his luggage. He is forced to wander through Jamaica’s countryside to reach the US embassy in Kingsport.
Ira Wolf-Tuton, member of Yeasayer, is one of the cast members in the movie, and a Suckers performance is also in the film along with an appearance by MGMT’s Ben Goldwasser. Music featured on the soundtrack is from the star of the film, Sean “Bones” Sullivan, The Congos and the Suckers. On October 26 the movie is coming out on DVD.
New summer dates have been lined up by Norah Jones to support “The Fall,” her newest studio album, including a couple of appearances on the Lilith Tour as the all-woman’s revived festival hits the road once again.
The current tour for the singer continues in Los Angeles on April 23 and runs through mid May. Jones will then take a break June and July, except for a couple festival appearances. She will be at the Celebrate Brooklyn Fest in Brooklyn, NY on June 9 and at the Bonnaroo Festival in Manchester, TN on June 11.
The next round of summer dates will kick off in Bethlehem, PA on August 7. Jones’ appearances with the Lilith Tour will follow, with appearances in West Palm Beach, FL on August 10 and in August 12 in Birmingham, AL.
“The Fall” was released last November. It was the fourth album from Jones and followed “Not Too Late,” her set from 2007. The album debuted in the No. 3 spot on Billboard’s 200 chart. During the first week of its release the set sold 180,000 copies.
For her new set, Jones brought collaborators in that she previously hadn’t worked with including engineer and producer Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Kings of Leon) and several collaborators for songwriting, including Will Sheff from Okkervil River and Ryan Adams.
Musicians backing Jones on her new album include guitarists Smokey Hormel (Joe Strummer, Johnny Cash) and Marc Ribot (Elvis Costello, Tom Waits) drummers James Gadson and Joey Waronker (R.E.M. and Beck), and keyboardist James Poyser (Al Green, Erykah Badu).
“Young Blood, the latest single from the album, was released in February to radio stations.
Cat Power, Heart, Loretta Lynn and Norah Jones are among the artists who have committed for the Lilith Fair tour this year. The itinerary continues to expand.
Other additions who have recently joined the lineup for the tour include Elizaveta, Toby Lightman, Melissa McClelland, Rosie Thomas, Priscilla Renea, Marina & The Diamonds, Lissie, Missy Higgins, Lights, Kate Nash, Julia Othmer, Frazey Ford, Erin McCarley, Ceci Bastida, Beth Orton, La Roux, Gossip and Loretta Sia. According to the press release for the tour, in coming weeks other major artists are going to be announced.
Loretta Lynn, in a statement said, I’m happy I was wanted for the Lilith tour. I’ve never done any shows with just girl singers before now. When I was just starting out, people said girl singers weren’t able to sell concert tickets or records. Since then we have come a really long way. We will have a great time when we’re out there.
A statement from Nancy and Ann Wilson of Heart said, we are absolutely thrilled that our future has Lilith 2010 in it. To be part of the power and depth is going to be beyond exciting. For women in this new decade it’s stunning intent.
Higgins said, Lilith Fair always was something I wish when I was a kid I had been cool enough to go to. Even if back then I had known about it, I was in Australia. Secretly I always hoped it would be brought back so I would be able to beg to be part of it. I am very excited they asked me. This will be the first Lilith that is taken out to a new generation.
Not only has the talent roster of the tour been expanded by the organizers, but the number of cities for the tour has nearly doubled. There will be a total of 32 cities with venues and dates to be announced.
The tour for 2010 Lilith Fair marks a return for the event after being on hiatus for 11 years. Artists that were previously confirmed include Metric, Miranda Lambert, Tegan and Sara, Ke$sha, Erykah Badu, Colbie Caillat, Sheryl Crow, Mary J. Blige and Sarah McLachlan.
Further details regarding the tour, including the entire confirmed performers list, can be found on the event’s website at lilithfair.com.
Norah Jones will become reacquainted with the road this spring as she embarks on a 36-city tour that will begin in Tulsa, Oklahoma on March 5 and carry her to Atlanta, Georgia on May 15. The tour is in support of her recent album release “The Fall” which hit shelves on November 17. The tour will focus on more intimate theater venues that compliment Jones’ laid back vibe. Tickets for select dates go onsale Friday (12/4) and Norah Jones mailing list is holding a presale today (12/1) at 4pm via Artist Arena. Full Norah Jones tour dates are listed below.
Norah’s latest release “The Fall” seems to shrug off her jazz-pop mantle to instead lean in a more rock driven direction. Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, Modest Mouse, Tom Waits) stepped up to handle production duties on the new album, and Jones flipped through her Rolodex to enlist songwriting help from Ryan Adams, Will Sheff (Okkervil River) and longtime partner Jesse Smith. The album can be ordered in CD or Vinyl from NorahJones.com or downloaded at iTunes.
For those of you who can’t wait until Jones makes the rounds to your town, be sure to catch her upcoming television performances as she supports “The Fall.” She will be on the Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien on December 15 as well as Jimmy Kimmel on December 16.
2010 Norah Jones Concert Tour Dates
5 – Tulsa, OK – Brady Theater
6 – Kansas City, MO – The Midland
7 – Omaha, NE – Orpheum
9 – Des Moines, IA – Civic Center
11 – Akron, OH – E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall (on sale 12/4)
12 – Louisville, KY – Whitney Hall
13 – Indianapolis, IN – Murat Theatre
15 – Madison, WI – Overture Hall
17 – St. Paul, MN – The O’Shaughnessy
19 – Milwaukee, WI – Riverside Theatre (on sale 12/4)
20 – Chicago, IL – Chicago Theatre
25 – Boston, MA – Wang Theatre (on sale 12/5)
26 – Mashantucket, CT – MGM Foxwoods
27 – New York, NY – WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden (on sale 12/5)
30 – Baltimore, MD – Lyric Opera House (on sale 12/4)
1 – Charlottesville, VA – The Paramount Theater
2 – Washington, DC – Warner Theatre (on sale 12/4)
3 – Philadelphia, PA – Tower Theatre
8 – Seattle, WA – Paramount Theatre
19 – Portland, OR – Arlene Schnitzer Hall (on sale 12/4)
21 – San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
23 – Los Angeles, CA – Orpheum Theater (on sale 12/6)
24 – San Diego, CA – Spreckels Theatre
25 – Phoenix, AZ – Dodge Theater (on sale 12/7)
28 – Albuquerque, NM – Kiva Auditorium
29 – El Paso, TX – Plaza Theatre
1 – Austin, TX – Stubb’s Bar-B-Q
4 – Dallas, TX – Majestic Theatre
5 – Houston, TX – Verizon Wireless Theater
6 – Mobile, AL – Saenger Theatre
8 – Memphis, TN – Orpheum Theatre
9 – Birmingham, AL – Alabama Theatre
11 – Asheville, NC – Thomas Wolfe Auditorium
12 – Charlotte, NC – Ovens Auditorium
14 – Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium
15 – Atlanta, GA – Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre