Norah Jones' creative vision(s) shine at The Met - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
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Norah Jones has come a long way.

Her ubiquitous, multi-Grammy Award winning, bazillion-copy-selling debut album made a massive impact over 20 years ago, and it’s still what many listeners immediately associate her with. You could see that in action last night at The Met, when an abstract arpeggio of twinkling piano notes in a vaguely familiar chord progression gave way to a sublime new arrangement of its title track, “Come Away With Me.” There was the delighted murmur of surprised recognition, and the crowd made their way to their feet for the first time in the night, swaying with their phones out, capturing video and singing softly along.

But Norah Jones is more than a jazz-schooled, pop-oriented, downbeat singer-songwriter. Over the ensuing decades, she’s traversed the roads of rip-roaring Nashvillia (2004’s Feels Like Home, 2007’s Not Too Late) and effevescent soul-pop (2009’s The Fall and 2012’s Little Broken Hearts). She’s collaborated with Danger Mouse and Billie Joe Armstrong, and appeared on records by OutKast, Belle and Sebastian, Herbie Hancock, and Foo Fighters. She’s a lot more eclectic and interesting of an artist than she often gets credit for, and that stylistic array shines on her 2024 record Visions. It also shone over the course of last night’s show which, while it occasionally felt more on-book than in-the-moment, sounded gorgeous.

Norah Jones | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Jones was backed by longtime collaborator Sasha Dobson on guitar, vocals and — in a mildly cheesy move — mouth trumpet (was an actual brass player not an option for this tour?); Josh Lattanzi on bass; Sami Stevens on organ and vocals; and Brian Blade on drums. They were tightly circled at the front of The Met’s stage, backed by colorful lighting and drapery evoking Visions’ album art; short of Jones standing up to play Wurlitzer on “I’m Awake,” “I Just Wanna Dance” and “Chasing Pirates,” and electric guitar on a cluster of mid-set songs, there wasn’t a ton of movement from their cormation. But the playing, though — exceptional.

“Alone With My Thoughts” from the new record swirled and swelled, with Blade’s sturdy bass interlocking with Jones softly cascading piano, casting a hypnotic spell across the venue, and when it wrapped, the cheers were immense. Later on, “Queen Of The Sea” — one of the songs where Jones played guitar — had a similar effect. The layers of vocal harmony with Dobson, Stevens and Jones took the spotlight on “I Just Wanna Dance,” and the Tom Waits vibe conjured by Not Too Soon‘s “Sinkin’ Soon” was answered later in the set with a cover of Waits’ Orphans track “The Long Way Home.”

Gorgeous as it all sounded, Jones wasn’t much for conversation; the cliche (if charming) sentiment “I have a great job, thanks for employing me” was the most degree of banter she offered, and it often felt that, much as she made quick remarks about loving Philly (and has a long history in the city, going back to early shows at The Point), it sometimes felt like this could have been any concert, in any city. Jones and the band were in showtime-mode, and kept the train moving (the very chill, beautiful train) in that regard. But a cover of Minnie Ripperton’s “Les Fluers” with opener Emily King felt looser; even though it’s one she’s been doing at most shows on this tour, the camaraderie and rapport the two artists share is profoundly evident, and the band makes the song soar, taking the cover and making it fit right into the robust stylistic expanse of Jones’ own discography.

Emily King | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

King’s own set was a transformation from the bright and buoyant pop show she brings to the stage as a headlining artist; here she appeared with only guitarist Randy Runyon, playing old songs and new in a stripped-down configuration. A new one called “Anyway, I Love You” — about long-distance phone conversations with her father — was a hushed and sentimental storytelling number, while “This Year” from 2023’s Special Occasion was bright electro-soul number, a little in the spirit of Ani DiFranco’s funkier moments. And even if the set lacked the energizing impact of King solo, there was the sense that we were seeing a special and unique spin on this compelling artist’s work.

Check out photos from Norah Jones’ and Emily King’s concert at The Met Philly below. Their tour continues tonight with two back-to-back gigs in Brooklyn at The Paramount Theater, and you can find the full rundown of dates here.

Setlist
May
15
Norah Jones
The Met Philly
  • Sunrise
  • Paradise
  • Swept Up In The Night
  • Running
  • Sinkin' Soon
  • I'm Awake
  • I Just Wanna Dance
  • Chasing Pirates
  • Alone With My Thoughts
  • Les Fleurs (ft. Emily King)
  • Visions
  • Staring At The Wall
  • Queen Of The Sea
  • All A Dream
  • Come Away With Me
  • All This Time
  • That's Life
  • Happy Pills
  • What Am I To You?
  • The Long Way Home
  • Don't Know Why
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