Last night, Norah Jones surprised me. When the show opened, the stage lights illuminated a tiny Jones, clad in a tasteful red dress and strumming a guitar as she purred the lyrics to “Come Away with Me.” I didn’t know she played guitar, but I guess it isn’t so much a stretch given that she’s so skilled on the piano.
Jones surprised me again at the end of the show. She ended on a Willie Nelson tune, telling the audience that this was the last song. I wondered to myself, how is she going to end the night (a) by playing someone else’s song and (b) after not singing “Don’t Know Why”—-the hit that made her a star?
Of course, she left the stage and thanked us all for a lovely evening. The audience rose to its feet to give her an ovation, to beg her to come back and play what we’d all come to hear. I stayed in my seat and declined to play the game.
But the funny thing was, after Jones declared that Willie Nelson tune to be the last song of the evening, a lot of people got up and left. When she did come back on stage to play three more songs (including “Don’t Know Why”) a few people who’d been fooled crept back in and lingered sheepishly in the doorway to hear the real end of the show.
I wasn’t surprised that they left. Not to say anything about the quality of Jones’ performance, but I once read a review that referred to her as “Snorah Jones.” I now know why. Some people just aren’t meant to be seen live—-or perhaps some people just aren’t meant to be seen at Constitution Hall. The last time I was at Constitution Hall—-with orchestra seats no less—-I had a ball. I was up in the aisle singing and dancing along with Erykah Badu and the band. But I guess you kind of can’t help getting crunk with Erykah Badu. She begs it of you. Norah Jones, not so much. It would have been nice to have seen her show by candlelight over glasses of Merlot at a more intimate venue like Blues Alley. But I can see it from her perspective. If you can pack Constitution Hall, why sell yourself short?