k.d. lang at the Mondavi
k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang delighted the capacity crowd at the Mondavi Center Thursday night with a wide-ranging show.
Her legendary voice delivered everything from a sultry growl to a soaring soprano heartache. Throughout the 90-minute set and two encores, lang’s remarkable voice delivered each note with an impeccable sense of timing and emotional nuance.
She never flinched from delivering a song with powerful bravado, as in her 1992 Grammy-winning “Constant Craving,” nor did she shy away from the almost unbearable tenderness and vulnerability of “The Perfect Word.”
The concert was almost evenly divided between songs from lang’s latest CD, “Sing It Loud,” and some of her older tunes, with a smattering of offerings from other artists: “Reminiscing” by the Little River Band (1978), “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” from her duet album with Tony Bennett, and of course Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
Backed by her first band since The Reclines played on her first two albums, lang showed a sense of playful fun that has been missing from her recent work. Returning to the humor and high-spirited campiness that characterized lang’s early work some 25 years ago, there was no holding back on the enthusiasm and energy of the evening.
Siss Boom Bang is an accomplished group of five musicians with impressive credentials in the rock, pop and country genres. There was an obvious intimacy in the interplay among the players and lang.
This configuration seems to work well for all concerned, particularly the collaboration between lang and guitarist Joe Pisapia on several of the songs from “Sing It Loud.” Not since the early days with Ben Mink has lang had a consistent composing and arranging partner, and the chemistry shows to advantage in their work.
The first encore was a rousing acoustic chicken-scratch rendition of “Pay Dirt” from lang’s very first album, “Angel with a Lariat” (1987), and it exemplified the hoedown feeling of that younger “cow-punk” singer. It was a welcome homecoming, and the crowd embraced it with thunderous applause.