Stacey Kent – NCH

Artist/Band: Stacey Kent with The RTE Concert Orchestra
Release date: 2017/10/11
Venue: The NCH, Dublin 2
Reviewer name: Grainne Farren

Stacey Kent is the kind of vocalist who makes singing sound deceptively easy. She doesn’t go in for elaborate virtuosic effects or vocal gymnastics, just interprets the songs with clarity, feeling, spot-on timing and effortless rhythm. In the National Concert Hall on 11 October she was backed by her own regular group – Jim Tomlinson (tenor and soprano sax), Graham Harvey (piano), Jeremy Brown (double bass) and Josh Morrison (drums) – plus the RTE Concert Orchestra, conducted by Richard Balcombe.

The programme included songs in French and Portuguese as well as English, mostly avoiding the usual well-worn standards. Antonio Carlos Jobim was represented, not by his big hits, but by three of his lesser-known compositions: Dreamer, Double Rainbow and Photograph. Serge Gainsbourg’s romantic ballad Les Amours Perdues got a yearning treatment in impeccable French.

Some of the most interesting numbers were originals by Stacey’s husband Jim Tomlinson. With lyrics by the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, three of these – Bullet Train, The Changing Lights and The Ice Hotel – were colourful, fascinating story-songs.

Tomlinson also contributed mellow sax solos, and the quartet combined perfectly with the Concert Orchestra to set off the singer’s voice and enhance her performance. Two last Brazilian tunes, To Say Goodbye and Samba Saravah, were supposed to end the concert, but of course the audience demanded more and called Stacey Kent back for two encores.

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