Being totally unenamoured with mainstream television I am always on the lookout for entertainment in other areas. A short while ago I stumbled across a series of tribute gigs to the living greats: Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Carol King, Lionel Richie, James Taylor and Barbra Streisand, where the music legend being honoured sits in the audience whilst other great artists come on stage to cover one of their songs. It was during watching the Barbra Streisand tribute that I became a fan of Diana Krall who sang a song called Down with Love that I found myself rewinding and playing back over and over again. Before that moment, I didn’t know that I even liked jazz!
Which is how I found myself, last weekend, on the way to Oporto with the specific purpose of going to see Diana Krall at the Pulvilhao Multiusos de Gondomar. And, I’m so pleased I did. She was utterly amazing. The only trouble is her song-list is so big that she can only play a tiny fraction of her repertoire in any one concert, and the hour and a half she did was just a tease, really, leaving me wanting so much more. But having said that, it was well worth the trip just to hear, live, her sultry rendition of I’ve Got You Under My Skin, with intonation so heartstoppingly perfect that I think I must have held my breath throughout the whole song.
I love the composer Antonio Carlos Jobim and so was waiting for her to play The Boy from Ipanema or So Nice, which unfortunately she didn’t do, although she did play Quiet Nightswhich had me smiling and left me Samba-fulfilled. And of course The Look of Love, as part of her encore, a slightly more jazzed up version than we are used to hearing from her, but still great.
She doesn’t have an act, as such, she just sits and plays the piano and sings to the accompaniment of some fantastic jazz musicians to whom she often gives centre stage, and that’s all the performance I need from her, so too the couple sitting next to me who came from the Netherlands just to be there. They told me they are Diana Krall junkies, travelling to different parts of Europe to see and hear her, and yes, it’s possible that I might become one too.
The icing on the cake for me was Oporto, which is a lovely city with great historic architecture, cobbled roads and cloudless blue sky. When I arrived on Saturday I went immediately to the art district to browse through the privately owned contemporary galleries, and appreciate the street art on every available wall. I bought the small painting which chose me and will now always remind me of my trip.
Before the gig I had supper in a tapas bar around the corner from my hotel, and savoured two glasses of really wonderful red wine. I got talking to the couple on the next table, also from Holland, who at seventeen and sixteen had the maturity of people so much older that despite their young looks, when they told me their age, I was shocked. They met on a year long sailing trip around the world for teenagers. The boy was a pupil in an International school. I was so interested in their experiences stories that when I looked at my watch I had to run off so as not to be late for the concert.
On Sunday, I went for a long walk to the Synagogue which was, sadly, closed, and then down to the river, where I crossed the bridge and had lunch in a restaurant outside one of the Port wine caves, savouring yet another couple of glasses of delicious red wine … and then home.