@ Cadogan Hall, London, 11 November 2009
2009 marks the 30th anniversary of Rickie Lee Jones' transatlantic
hit, Chuck E's In Love, which remains her greatest commercial
is one of two details that are always cited when it comes
to Jones, the other being her relationship (also in the
late '70s) with Tom Waits. The singer (whose
voice was sampled for The Orb's Little
Fluffy Clouds) has remained active throughout the interim,
however, and tonight's gig sees her showcase latest album,
Balm In Gilead.
Prolonged applause greets the Chicago-born singer's entrance
as she settles down with an electric acoustic guitar, flanked
by a bass player and double bass player. The sound is stripped
back and subtle for new track His Jewelled Floor, which
builds subtly then passes like gentle sonic waves lapping
against the shore. One thing that's clear from the start
is Jones' genuine enjoyment, and she looks ecstatic as she
sings the melodic A Face In The Crowd.
passion is mirrored by certain members of the crowd, one
of whom hands her a birthday present following Nobody Knows
My Name. The adulation continues as Jones resumes playing,
but the clapping and whooping are thankfully brought to
an abrupt end by another audience member telling them to
shut up, testament to the hushed and respectful atmosphere
in Cadogan Hall that she has managed to create.
a phase of harmonica-laced blues and soul, Rickie Lee talks
to the audience about her performance on this week's Later...
With Jools Holland. "Fucking TV!" she laughs.
"It's hard to sell an idea in three minutes."
This is then juxtaposed with the contemplative Bonfires
and the moving and heartfelt melodies of Sailor Song.
that's what stands out about Jones. She comes across as
strong one moment, vulnerable the next. She sings about
the US human rights struggle in the '60s on The Gospel Of
Carlos, Norman And Smith immediately before singing Stewart's
Coat, with its imagery of autumnal days and keeping cosy
under the sheets. Certain factors remain constant though;
emotion pours out of every note, whether it's love-inspired
balladry or the more upbeat rock of It Takes You There.
Her talent lies in the way she taps into emotions and creates
a story around them. From gentle rock to country to blues
to folk, each song is carried off with equal emotion and
steps over to the piano, showing off her vocal range on
Magazine before playing crowd favourite We Belong Together.
She then bookends her career by playing the jazzy Coolsville
from 1979 before picking up the guitar for Wild Girl, a
song dedicated to her daughter from the new album, to close.
The encore comes courtesy of a beautiful rendition of jazz
standard Autumn Leaves.
E's In Love may have been overlooked but none of the diehard
fans that heavily pepper the venue seem to care about that
as many of them rise for a standing ovation. Rickie Lee
Jones has a wealth of material from which to draw from the
past three decades and tonight's performance proves that
an artist's biggest, most commercially successful moment
is not necessarily their defining one. This was an accomplished
performance by an artist who still clearly retains the passion
and joy of playing music live.
Ian Roullier, 11/2009