Harry Connick Jr. In Concert

Harry Connick JrTuesday evening Harry Connick Jr. performed here at the Idaho Center.  All in all, he put on a great show.  My review…

The show started right on time at 7:30.  We had settled into our seats with a couple beers for only a few minutes before the house lights went out.  I always chuckle at the concert ritual of the “wooooooo!” from the crowd when the lights go down.  I don’t know why that amuses me.

Anyway, the curtains pulled back on the stage, the band on the right and the left side had Harry’s grand piano, an upright model and an organ.  The backdrop was an image of a bourbon street balcony and there were a couple of street lights on stage.

The show started with just the band busting into a 7 minute medley of songs.  I caught the familiar sounds of some of Harry’s big hits like It Had To Be You, and Danny Boy, and a few others.  All this really told me was we weren’t going to hear him sing any of those tunes tonight, which was a bit disappointing.  His band consists of a drummer, an upright bass player and a serious horn section.

After this little medley, Harry himself came out, sat at the piano and started playing with the band.  Didn’t say a word to the audience, just started letting is fingers do the walking. And boy, can they walk!  He is an amazing musician.  The first song he played and didn’t even sing.  Combined with his entrance, you’re wondering if he’s got laryngitis or something.

Finally, his second song he broke out that familiar, velvety smooth voice of his.   He really is the consummate entertainer.  For the next two hours, he and his band played their guts out on stage.  From what I could tell, he mostly stuck to songs from his new album “Oh, My NOLA”, which I don’t have and wasn’t familiar with.

He and his fellow musicians, really really seem to enjoy what they do.  They spent the whole show kidding around with each other, dancing, swapping instruments  and generally appearing to be having the time of their lives.  In particular, his trombonist spent a good deal of the show dancing and playing and even doing a little singing.  Even a saxaphonist did a little Catskills-like comedy routine in the middle of the show.  Harry himself played both the drums and the bass at different times.

One of the best aspects to his show is just his personality.  Whenever he would talk to the audience, it almost felt like he was speaking to some of his closest friends.  He has a warmth and humor about him that just makes him very enjoyable.  He told a story of being in the gym with an overly talkative high school student that was both funny and self-effacing.  Of course, being a bit cynical, when I’m at a concert I often wonder how much of the seemingly spontaneous fun stuff is actually something that is built into the show and performed every night.  Maybe thats just me.,

Of course, a theme of the show was New Orleans, but he didn’t hit you over the head with it.  He’s smart enough to know that the rest of the country feels and prays for those folks, especially the ones attending his concerts.  He made a couple references, and every time the crowd let out a good cheer.  Hope they can feel that good will down on the bayou.

My only gripe on the show was a lack of the ‘classics’.  He didn’t play any big band, Sinatra style songs.  He stuck mostly to jazz.  Occasionally, they would seem to break into that freestyle type jazz where everyone is doing their own thing, which I don’t much care for.  But, you could still see their skill.  I would have really liked to know a few more of the songs he was playing, but I suppose I should have gotten his album first.

All in all, he put on a great show.  It was a shame that it was only 2 hours long.  He only performed a single encore, and it was a number of just him and the piano… the middle of which saw him slowly making his way around the grand, using his hands to bang out a snappy rhythm.

I told Jess that as good as the show was, I would much rather pay $100 bucks a ticket to see him in a 100 seat smoky club somewhere rather than the $25 tickets in that not-so-converted rodeo arena they call a concert venue.  But what can ya do?  You gotta take opportunities as they come.

Thanks for the show, Harry.  You gave us our moneys worth.

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