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V 35 Issue 26

 
 
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Madeleine Peyroux charms petite Chateau audience
Madeleine Peyroux charms petite Chateau audience
by Lorelei Quenzer - SGN A&E Writer

Madeleine Peyroux with James Hunter
June 24 @ Chateau Ste. Michelle


It might have been the temperamental weekend weather - lightning and thunder over that dratted convergence zone, paired with the occasional sun break and dazzling rainbow - that kept the jazz lovers at home. Or maybe y'all just had so many drinks and you were too hung over from Pride to drive out to Woodinville Sunday afternoon. Whatever. You missed a great live performance by one of the best contemporary jazz vocalists out there. No, I'm not talking Norah Jones or Michael Bublé, or even my own personal fave, Jamie Cullum.

Madeleine Peyroux has the kind of voice that grabs your attention; she's raspy enough to be mistaken for Billie Holiday at first listen. But her choice of phrasing is unique, and you can't shake her sound loose once you've heard her rendition of jazz standards like "Smile" or "Walkin' After Midnight."

Then there are her jazz reinterpretations of ballads like the country "Everybody's Talkin'" or "Help Me Make It Through the Night," and the Tom Waits blues classic, "Looking for the Heart of Saturday Night." Of course, this is forgetting her own hits - heard daily on local radio stations like KPLU and The Mountain - like "Blue Alert," "Don't Wait Too Long," "I'm All Right," and "Dance Me to the End of Love," all of which even the most casual jazz listener would be sure to recognize.

Peyroux performed all of these hits, and more, to the rain-weary audience gathered on the Chateau lawn. It's best to come to outdoor concerts prepared for all weather eventualities, and I arrived wearing both a poncho and a sun hat. The ticket taker looked at me like I was crazy and asked if I knew something he didn't; it turned out I needed both.

As it flashed lightning to the north, Peyroux made note of the people leaving early and wondered out loud if she should continue. We were able to convince her that we needed at least four more tunes to keep us warm.

All in all, a 16-song set list satisfied the audience, and if it hadn't been for the approaching storm she might have stayed on stage to give us more.

Singer-songwriter James Hunter, who performs in a 50's R&B genre, opened for Madeleine. While the combination was curious, Hunter was a pleasant opening act and had many in the crowd on their feet. He's well known in his native Great Britain, and received a Grammy nomination for his 2006 blues album, People Gonna Talk. Many of his songs were covers, although a surprising number were original compositions of the "blue-eyed soul" variety. Standouts included "Talkin' 'Bout," "No Smoke Without Fire" and "Watch and Chain."

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