Jazz review: Harry Connick Jr at the London Palladium
A jazz man at heart, Harry Connick Jr nevertheless threw in funk, gospel and tap dancing
Clive Davis October 12 2018, 12:01am, The Times
Harry Connick Jr took a brief detour back to the era of When Harry Met Sally
Well, that brought back memories. Nearly 30 years have passed since a very young Harry Connick Jr floored an audience at the Dominion with one of the most uninhibited displays of all-round musicianship I have seen. A star was born.
Seeing the singer-pianist bring his eldest daughter on stage at the London Palladium was a tempus-fugit moment: she is much the same age he was at the time of that triumphant night in the 1980s.
Connick still has those famous matinee-idol looks. If there was a strain of schmaltz in this tricentennial homage to his home town, New Orleans, he remains a jazz man at heart, albeit one who can throw in funk, gospel and even tap dancing.
A cynic might complain that this was a tourist version of the Big Easy, with the grime airbrushed out by the high-energy mini big band and the cheerful refrain of that old anthem Didn’t He Ramble. Yet Connick is a musician who has the city’s music in his bloodstream, who can talk about childhood memories of Danny Barker and James Booker.
To the fans’ delight, he took a brief detour back to the era of When Harry Met Sally, squeezing in It Had to Be You and Love Is Here to Stay. There was also a chance to revisit his early Sinatra-esque hit We Are in Love. His voice, which admittedly lacks the grit to do full justice to the R&B material, was at its most urbane.
By the end of the evening he had paraded through the stalls in a New Orleans jazz funeral and given an all too brief demonstration of playing funky kick drum, snare drum and two keyboards simultaneously. Even in middle age Connick possesses so much raw talent that he sometimes still seems to be searching for a way to channel it.