When jazz/blues singer Melody Gardot last toured the US in 2012, I unfortunately had to pass on the chance to see her live. After years of traveling Europe, and producing a new album entitled “The Currency of Man” in the process, Gardot finally embarked on another Stateside tour. This time, I wasn’t going to miss her.
October 10, 2015. The Town Hall in New York City. This was the final stop on Melody Gardot’s American tour, and I was extremely fortunate to have been in attendance for such an incredible, emotional performance.
At approximately 8:15pm, Gardot took to the stage with her 7-piece band. Together, they kicked off the evening with a thundering rendition of “Same to You,” a track from Gardot’s latest album. Save for a handful of songs, the concert primarily (and not surprisingly) featured tunes from “The Currency of Man.”
For most songs, Gardot accompanied her band on either guitar or piano, whilst providing her signature brand of strong, sultry vocals. At times, I was blown away by just how powerful of a voice she commands; it was certainly a treat to experience live.
I was also intrigued by how funny Gardot can be. Between sets, she indulged in light, sometimes self-deprecating banter with the sold-out crowd, her voice tinged with a hint of a French accent. At one point, she even promised to track down Jack Black and form “Tenacious Deux.” (Melody, if you somehow ever read this, please know that you have at least one fan who would buy your comedy album.)
The conversation turned serious with the introduction of “Preacherman.” Gardot told her audience the story of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American boy who was the victim of a racially-motivated murder in the 1950s. She explained how she was moved to pen “Preacherman” upon hearing about the Till’s untimely death and the strength of Till’s mother in light of it all. Tapping her bare white wrist, Gardot proclaimed, “This here don’t matter,” before going into song.
The night was a perfect mix of lively jazz pieces, soulful blues melodies, and stripped-down ballads. My top moment of the night was Gardot’s performance of “Baby I’m a Fool,” which is one of my top three favorite Melody Gardot songs. (The others? “Quiet Fire” and “The Rain.”) Accustomed to hearing “Baby I’m a Fool” with a legion of strings, it was refreshing to experience it with simply a guitar and Gardot’s outstanding vocals.
That was preceded by “Our Love is Easy,” a track that, admittedly, was forgettable for me on Gardot’s debut album “Worrisome Love” but simply amazing with just the plucks of the guitar, the low hums of the horns, and soothing vocals. The live performance featured a different arrangement, which I prefer over the original.
I was seldom sitting still in my seat throughout the show. Between the constant tapping of my foot and hand clapping, I’m curious to know how many calories I burned attending this concert.
I give credit to Gardot and her band for not only putting on a fantastic performance, but also encouraging the audience to get involved. Toward the end, show-goers were out of their seats, some dancing, most clapping their hands. During the emotional “Preacherman,” Gardot had backing vocals provided by the women of the audience (and later, everyone joined in).
When the 90-minute(ish) show ended, I couldn’t stop beaming and declaring, “Worth it.” It truly was worth that at-least-3-year wait. I don’t get out to shows very often, let alone “rare” appearances, so this was quite a special experience. Gardot will be performing exclusively in Europe for the time being — who knows when she’ll hit the States again? (Maybe to promote that forthcoming comedy album.) I’m just going to savor seeing one of my favorite artists live as much as I possibly can.
To end this post the right/best way, here’s Irwin Hall playing two saxophones at once. Two saxophones at once. Seriously. It was that kind of show:
Thank you for a hell of a show, Melody. Whether in the States or maybe even Europe, I hope to catch you again someday.
The Monday Question:
Is there one artist or band you’ve always wanted to see? (Bonus points if they make limited appearances. If they’re no longer performing for any reason, that also counts.)
Til next Monday!