Katie Noonan presented her Blackbird Project: The Music of Lennon/McCartney as part of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, supported by Zac Hurren on saxophone, Sam Keevers on piano, Stephen Magnusson on guitar, Brett Hirst on bass, and Simon Barker on drums.
Opening act, FGHR launched their new album, Going Home, playing a wonderfully cool and laidback set of original song-based instrumentals with Brazilian and European jazz influences. FGHR (with Daniel Farrugia on drums, Leonard Grigoryan on guitar, Luke Howard on piano, Ben Robertson on bass, Ben Edgar on guitar, and Ross Irwin on... everything else) performed with a tangible and infectious joy and delight. As Howard contorted his face to the music (seeming to be silently scatting), Farrugia danced with his shoulders, and Grigoryan lounged cross-legged in a private jam-session. I felt a bit uncomfortable simply sitting and watching, I, too, wanted to move and to let the music fill me with the same joy and groove.
Katie Noonan has an exquisite voice; at once delicate and fragile, rich and resonant. However, in her collection of Lennon/McCartney interpretations, the meaning of the lyrics was often lost in a wash of vocal beauty and experimentation – a hazy atmosphere of emotion was created without specific connection and variation. In many ways this was utterly beautiful, the audience swept up in a sea of sound. The highlights of the set, however, were those in which Noonan’s vocal performance possessed greater impulse and drive. ‘Here, There, and Everywhere’ (a tender love song which includes Noonan’s favourite lyrics – ‘Watching his eyes and hoping I’m always there’) was captivating, making you feel what it is to be in love. ‘Eleanor Rigby’ was stirring in its melancholy, Hurren’s sax solo capturing the strain of loneliness.
Noonan is an inherent listening joy. The encore, ‘I Will’, induced by a slow clap from the audience, was delightful, Noonan sharing her love of singing and jazz with her audience.
BLACKBIRD PROJECT: THE MUSIC OF LENNON/MCCARTNEY
Venue: Hamer Hall, Arts Centre
Date/Time: 7:30pm Monday April 27 2009
Tickets: $85 - $50