Norah Jones hits Boston with mixed results

A review of Norah Jones at the Bank of America Pavilion on July 1, 2012

, Contributing Writer

Making her return to Boston with a whole new album and outlook, Norah Jones sought to dazzle the crowd at the Bank of America Pavilion on Sunday with the fresh material from Little Broken Hearts. Unfortunately, aside from a handful of standouts, Jones’ performance fell surprisingly flat.

When it was released back in April, Little Broken Hearts showed us an abject deviation from the normal Norah Jones we’ve all grown to expect. Critically acclaimed, the album largely takes on the theme of loss and heartbreak, directly connected to Jones’ breakup. While you can feel the emotion on the record, it failed to feel apparent in the live setting.

The main obstacle that Norah never managed to hurdle was to create that separation in mood in her live performance as her songs quickly blended together to create a fun but largely forgettable affair. Starting off with “Take It Back” and “Say Goodbye”, Jones did establish herself early as giving credence to her new work. However, after following with “It’s Gonna Be”, it quickly went downhill as, from thereon, her new work felt shuffled and peppered in between her older hits like “Chasing Pirates”.

That’s not to say Jones is not an evocative performer in the least. As always, her vocals were stellar and grabbed a perfectly willing audience at the Pavilion by the heartstrings. However, nothing really stood out as particularly heart-wrenching, which led to some disappointment. Some songs did rise a bit above the rest like current single “Happy Pills” and a particularly interesting cover of Hank Williams’ “Cold Cold Heart”. However, Jones’ frequent trips back to her more familiar work really chipped away at the emotional hammer that her new material deserved.

Loyal fans will probably point to the moving encore of “How Many Times Have You Broken My Heart?” and “Creepin’ In” as examples of Jones outshining herself and stepping beyond her norm. While the power of her vocal performance cannot be denied, there were simply not enough leaps and bounds taken to make for a more memorable performance.

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