Our good friend Bill Kazan kindly sent us this description and review of Jackie’s recent concert at the Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on August 6th. We were especially heartened to hear that Jackie is becoming ever more confident onstage: Bill points out that her patter between songs didn’t sound rehearsed, as it did in the past. Instead, he says, “she was fluent and funny and obviously enjoying the reactions from the audience.” Her shy, ingenuous awkwardness was charming when she was 10 or 12; it will become less so as she matures into an adult performer.
Letting the audience in on some of her own thoughts and feelings, which she did, and keeping her mom and dad in the picture are, we think, a sweet way to perpetuate her connection with her early fans, those who fondly remember Jackie when they seldom saw her beyond the embrace of her interesting and admirable parents. She and her family continue to shine as an apparently genuine example of what a wholesome family looks and acts like.
Jackie Sings the Oldies at the Music Hall
It was a little less than a year ago that I wrote a review of Jackie’s concert at the Hanover theater in Worcester MA. I was somewhat critical in that review — that her production team was not adding new material, and I thought the absence of anything new might have something to do with the poor attendance.
On Wednesday night I attended her Portsmouth NH concert at the Music Hall, and although the songs were mostly a repeat of Hanover, I have no complaints. In fact, I would say this was her best performance of the four concerts I have attended.
The Music Hall is a great venue – very small, it dates from 1878 – the Music Hall poster said “Intimate”, and it was.
Our wondering about the “new” is now in the past: Jackie has issued the song list for her upcoming album; she will tape her Awakening PBS special in two weeks; the new CD arrives in late September; and I expect they will start booking her for The Talk, The View and the rest, as her album debuts.
I did think she might perform Think of Me, since it is already released for purchase, but she let us know at the start of the concert that this would only be songs from Dream with Me (DWM) and Songs From the Silver Screen (SFSS). I guess if we want to hear Jackie sing the new songs live we’ll have to wait for the album release. Jackie encouraged us to order Awakening!
So, I was thinking, this will be the last time I see and hear what I call the “early” Jackie. DWM was released in 2011 (over three years ago), and SFSS a year later, so these are the songs that got her and us to Awakening, which will now become the focus of her concert tour and TV spots.
No matter how good the selections on Awakening, the songs performed at the Musical Hall on Wednesday will always have a special place for me, and I think most of her early fans. These songs remind us of when we were first introduced to her music, and the beauty and emotion of her singing. I was really glad I was there to hear her sing these songs again — some of them we might not hear her sing again live for a long while. Maybe nothing “new” on Wednesday was a gift.
So I viewed this as Jackie sings the oldies, and if you love the “early” Jackie, then this was a great concert. I thought her command of the stage and her voice were never better. The song selection was wonderful (song list is below). I do miss the songs on the banned list (Nessun Dorma, Dark Waltz, and Danny Boy), but to everything there is a season.
For those who are wondering, the framework was the same as most of her concerts — Maestro Di Costanzo conducting a local (and very excellent) young orchestra, and Jackie did her usual three song sets followed with orchestra selections. No children were called up on stage — not something I missed!
Although the songs were not new, Jackie had some new things to show us. She introduced almost every song, and managed to give some advice on the teenage years (coping), dedications to both her Mom and Dad (he cries when she sings), and how much she loves the smell of popcorn (which was evident in the very intimate Music Hall setting which was pumping out the popcorn at intermission).
It reminded me of the SFSS tour and PBS special, where she also introduced all the songs, although that was obviously rehearsed. But at the Music Hall she was talking to us between almost every song, and she was fluent and funny and obviously enjoying the reactions from the audience. And how great to just hear her talk about things in her life, and not the “standard book” of questions and answers which seem to be baked into every interview. I think those who were there were made to feel more connected with her than in some of her prior concerts.
A few other observations:
We got a good smattering of Jackie waves (maybe she won’t outgrow her wave? I hope not). I thought when Jackie hit that high note in The Music of the Night I could hear glass cracking — luckily no injuries, unbelievable.
Jackie did not sing O mio babbino caro — this is the first concert I’ve attended where she did not perform what some regard as her signature song. I’m thinking with three concerts in five days maybe the plan was to save some of her ammo.
And the last thing I would ever expect to see at a Jackie concert — she missed the start of Can You Feel the Love Tonight — and appeared not to know what the song selection was. So she turned to Maestro Di Costanzo for direction, and then with a quick Jackie wave and a “sorry folks” she gracefully recovered.* The first line of the lyric jumped ship (she didn’t sing “There’s a calm surrender to the rush of day”), but the rest of the lyric stayed on-board and, what’s more, she never lost her composure. Altogether I found the little episode endearing. Yes, it turns out, she’s human after all, not perfect. I think maybe the smell of popcorn muddled her brain.
Now that she is moving on to new songs, what a gift that we have recordings of these first songs — they were our “awakening” to her talent and the special person she is. So while I look forward to the new, I will treasure the old. I’m sure she will keep many of these early songs in her concerts, not to mention that we’ll no doubt hear them again on her inevitable Greatest Hits CD.
I felt nostalgic leaving the Music Hall. It was a good night for the old songs. But now bring on the new!
Here is the song list
From Dream With Me:
When You Wish Upon a Star (opening song)
The Lord’s Prayer
Ombra Mai Fu
The Impossible Dream (bonus Target track)
From Songs of the Silver Screen:
Some Enchanted Evening
What a Wonderful World
Can You Feel the Love Tonight
My Heart Will Go On
The Music of the Night (encore)
*Editor’s note: the same thing happened in Toronto; there, too, the maestro came to her rescue.