What a thrill of the nite!
As I stepped my feet on to Esplanade Theatre, looking over the Theatre Hall and the stage where the orchestra pits were set, I still couldn’t find myself be humming along k.d. lang’s songs in the next 90 minutes or so. You may think it as a horrenduous start as I purchased the album last week and has played the CD on my hi-fi for several times in the past few days. Yet, I don’t recall a single word of the lyrics! Worse, I couldn’t rely this on Ve who had just listened to the CD a few hours earlier.
Lights were dimmed, the voice-over announcement came saying the basic standard of regulations in watching a concert, and to my surprise, my watch showed that it was only 8.03 pm! Alritey, whoever constructed Sting’s concert last time, never attempt to make audience awaiting for more than one hour!
“Ladies and gentlemen …. k. … d. … lang!”
There she was, strolling along the stage nicely in such a girlish manner, cute, sheepish smile that was never worn out, matched with a long, dark blue skirt and on barefoot! How more ordinary can you be in seeing a multiple Grammy Award winner in such a drapery clothing? Apparently, what you see would not be what you expected.
Without further due of unnecessary greetings, she started out the evening with her smooth rendition of Don’t Smoke in Bed. Playful and sweet lady-like at the same time, she continued marching throughout the evening with mostly songs from her latest album “Hymns of the 49th Parallel” to which she called it as “continuous examples of fine Canadian songwritings” before she began singing The Valley from Jane Siberry, one of the highlights of the night where she belted out the song that began with bass playing and flew along in the rhythm of tuneful notes.
And that’s the magic of the concert which explains the 20-year lengthy career of k.d. lang. Here’s the thing about her. She has placed herself as one of the very rare artists who never revolutionized or defied the challenges, yet she evolved in her maturity and thoughtfulness as the time progresses, and the world slowly began to perceive her as a iconical figure. In a clear example of that statement, how can one be boldly standing out in the midst of hectic crowd on singers-remaking-standards? By injecting a lot of hearts into the songs being ‘cover-version’ed (if such a word exists), and remaking not necessarily means “merely sing the same song again with my own voice”, but what needs to be taken into account is how one gives a new interpretation and possibly a new life into into it.
That’s exactly what k.d. lang has enjoyed over the past few years when she decided to make a tidal wave against her outburst creative process by turning herself into standards and distinctively created a certain atmosphere of freshness in those classics, be it in her own or with Tony Bennett, the late Roy Orbinson, or some other artists. She chose her songs carefully in each of her remake albums, she ensured that the songs would reflect her truest sense of being: a womanhood.
A woman that has matured along with the time, she might be Crying over her lost lover, and that perhaps explained why Ve gave a little smirk over what he thought as one of the (very minor) letdowns of the night’s concert. Could it be because she had to carry the burden herself rather than sharing it with Roy Orbison as we usually hear? It may not be easy to justify as she proved otherwise when she came back to the stage (one of the three encores for the nite) and singing the universally recognized Kiss to Build Dream On in a girlish manner that left the audience wanting for more.
However, being way too familiar with one particular hit of hers that earned a controversy and a Grammy along the same note back on early ’90s, my thirst of curiosity for this song was finally quenched when she sang this over-played song in an unexpected twist. Yes, you got that right. Her Constant Craving was treated with gentle, proper care as shown in the grandeur style of orchestra, yet exactly in the midst of its perfectly balanced mixture with her own band that provides electrical sound, we can hear each party’s distinctiveness that in fact, left us wanting for more. For more good performances like this.
And as I stepped my feet out of Esplanade Theatre after riding high on this magical concert for 75 minutes, I can’t help myself humming along Neil Young’s Helpless, another classic taken from her latest album that she performed in an understated and subdued manner that brought the house down to its knees in thrilling sense, for I was helplessly saying deep down in my heart:
One of the best concerts ever.