When I’m ancient and on my death-bed, I suspect I shall remember this concert.
Natalie Cole June 13th, Festival Theatre
When I’m ancient and on my death-bed, I suspect I shall remember this concert. It was one of those seminal experiences that one has very now and then – when one is in the company of a performer of such breath-taking artistry the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you are suddenly sitting at her feet, and not, as I was, twenty-plus rows away.
Natalie Cole is second generation show-biz royalty, and one who has well and truly stepped out from the shadow of her father into the full sun of her own lengthy and acclaimed career. Nine Grammy Awards and a long list of chart-topping hits are testament to her brilliance.
Backed by her own band (smoking hot!) and the ever-wonderful Adelaide Art Orchestra, Cole’s two hour tour-de force began with silky versions of classics from the American songbook; Stardust, Come Rain or Shine, The Man That Got Away, The Very Thought of You, and a devastating version of Fever.
At the halfway point, she launched into Walkin’ My Baby back Home, and was joined, through the wonders of technology, by her father’s voice. It was a breath-taking moment, but nothing compared to what came next – THE duet with Nat – Unforgettable, complete with slide show from the Cole family album. Yes, I had tears leaping from my eyes (as did everyone around me), but not just because of the sentiment of the moment, but because I knew I was in the presence of greatness; a performer who has music in her veins, who grew up surrounded by the pre-eminent jazz performers of the twentieth century.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Cole changed gear. Leaving the stage to step out of the high heels that were “too much to bear”, she returned wearing thongs, and set about igniting the stage with songs from the pop and rock repertoire. Her Grammy – winning This Will Be, a haunting rock version of Neil Young’s Old Man, and a scorching take on When Love Comes To Town.
But it was the final moments of the concert, when Cole engaged in some serious musical pyrotechnics – through a scat dialogue with trumpet – that had the audience gaping at her unbelievable vocal prowess and enjoyment of her craft.
Three curtain calls and standing ovations later, I wander from the theatre in a blissful daze, buzzed and energized by the knowledge that I’ve seen something truly unforgettable.