Madeleine Peyroux at The Luckman, April 9, 2011

Madeleine Peyroux

Madeleine Peyroux made it to Cal State L.A.

Notwithstanding Angelino “here we are now entertain us” impassiveness, or the non-intimacy of big venue jazz, we audience members weren’t digging her enough. At least she thought so. Ms. Peyroux began sometime after 8:15pm, moving into position with her band, and most immediately not liking the separation between herself and her audience. It was a few songs into the set before she convinced us, by both her performance and her sound mix, one time even asking us if we could hear ok, that the show had started and we needed to be involved. Some people might have said we were just quiet between songs, and it would have been a tad indulgent for us to put on airs, as we applauded warmly when she won us over, but it can also be argued that her banter wasn’t gratified enough. She wanted something we didn’t know how to give.

In her voice, which you can turn in your mind long after exposure, is the love and pain of a colorful life. Her pure tone wraps its legs around truly witty, inspired lyrics, combative insight and a burdensome happiness, as in “Don’t Wait Too Long” or “Dance Me To The End of Love”. Somewhere between Billie Holiday and Norah Jones is Madeleine Peyroux telling us to cheer up or not get too excited, her coffee house vox populi glazed in smoke and rain, a mezzo soprano from the Great Depression crooning love songs, Bob Dylan covers, even “Martha, My Dear”.

Madeleine Peyroux

Some of her forthcoming songs are good fun about not picking fights with poets, closer to the down-to-earth good judgment pieces on “Bare Bones”. Some songs are more “Badalamente”. Strange melodies feel constructed of jazzy chords, reverberated twangy guitar and abstractions by way of k.d. lang and Ben Mink, like “River”, or one based on a poem by W.H. Auden. The core grooves remind me of “Wild Is The Wind”.

Towards the end, she relaxed and breathed out one slapping good song after another. The hammond organ and jazzy guitar glittered, we clapped, the band won its own applause for exceptional passage play. She laughed at us a little more for clapping. It all winded down into an encore.

Madeleine Peyroux

Incidentally, I checked out the new Support>System exhibit at the Luckman Gallery. Ringo Bunoan’s Tetris-like “Wall” of pillows and Zhou Tao’s video installation, “South Stone”, are, respectively, an arcade game presented in a kind of Indie comfort zone and an Indie Film with an arcade game narrative. Interesting stuff goi’ on up there at Cal State L.A.

Upcoming Events at The Luckman

Beijing LDTX, Apr 16
Tindersticks, Apr 30
Angelique Kidjo, May 1
Nortec Collective Presents: Bostich & Fussible, May 7
LJO: Tribue to Clifford Brown, May 21
Ahn Trio, June 4
Keren Ann Featuring Chris Garneau, June 25