A classic, elegant performance

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First Posted: 3/9/2015

WILKES-BARRE — With everything from jazz standards to songs written by Tom Waits, Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney, Diana Krall was mesmerizing Saturday night at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts.

Backed by a stellar band consisting of Anthony Wilson (guitar), Dennis Crouch (upright bass), Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Karriem Riggins (drums), and Patrick Warren (keyboards), Krall took her place at the piano Saturday and kicked off the jazz classics “We Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye” and “There Ain’t No Sweet Man That’s Worth the Salt of My Tears,” both first visited on her 2012 album “Glad Rag Doll.”

The five-time Grammy winner, now 50 and into the second decade of her career, looked and sounded as lovely as ever as she followed with “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and “Just Like a Butterfly That’s Caught in the Rain” (another standout from “Glad Rag Doll”).

The simple but elegant staging featured a few antique radios while the screen lit up with old, black-and-white films to enhance each musical number. “We’re going to play songs from lots of different times and radio stations,” Krall said.

Krall then told a lengthy story about parties at her grandparents’ house, playing the piano and learning to mix drinks with Canadian Club whisky.

“I guess that’s why I don’t talk a lot on stage,” she said, laughing as she tried to remember her point, which may have been to introduce the ukulele on the next number.

“Besides, you didn’t buy expensive tickets to hear me talk.”

With fiddler Duncan now playing ukulele, Krall and company played the chestnut “Everything’s Made for Love,” followed by a superb cover of Waits’ “Temptation,” which she first tackled on her 2004 album “The Girl in the Other Room.”

Krall played the next few numbers solo as she did dazzling versions of “Let’s Face the Music and Dance,” “East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)” and Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You.” She wrapped up the solo segment with an impromptu medley of songs associated with Fats Waller – first, she played a bit of “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” then stopped and said that wasn’t the song she intended to play. Krall then rescued herself with a fine version of “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.”

Rejoined by her band, Krall then played a gaggle of songs from her most recent album “Wallflower,” including the Mamas and the Papas classic “California Dreamin’,” Jim Croce’s “Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels)” and “If I Take You Home Tonight,” a recent gem by McCartney.

“Let’s go from Paul McCartney to Nat King Cole, why not?” Krall said as she and the band launched into “Just You, Just Me.”

Following a jaunty take on “Deed I Do,” Krall wrapped the main set with “Wallflower,” the lesser-known Dylan tune that gave her most recent album its name, and “I’m a Little Mixed Up,” another tune from her “Glad Rag Doll” collection.

After a brief retreat backstage, Krall and company re-appeared with two more songs from “Wallflower” – first, a gorgeous version of the Eagles’ “Desperado,” then an equally fine version of 10CC’s “I’m Not In Love.”

Krall then played some jazzy piano chords before taking a detour into a rollicking rendition of The Band’s “Ophelia” to put a nifty capper on her 90-minute performance.