SANTIAGO — Norah Jones returned to Santiago on Friday night. The last time she was here was in December 2012 at the Movistar Arena. This time she treated fans to a more intimate concert at Teatro Caupolicán.
It has been a busy year for Grammy-winning jazz artist Norah Jones. After a few one-off shows in North America at the beginning of the year, she then released her seventh studio album, Begin Again, and toured Australia in April. She then returned to North America for a three-month tour followed by appearances at Harvest Moon: A Gathering in September and Silence the Violence 2019 in October. She is currently working her way through South America to finish out the year.
With 9 Grammys and 50 million in album sales, the international star is no stranger to Chile, but it has been seven years since she was last here: December 4, 2012, at Movistar Arena. Her fans would argue she was way past due, but she repaid the delay and then some by trading the arena-vibe of Movistar for the old-school-but-still-capacious Teatro Caupolicán.
Over the years, Jones has run a Möbius strip of country and jazz, and Friday night’s performance was more jazz focused, with a Spartan set, limited chitchat, and a simple but polished accompaniment by drummer Brian Blade and bassist Josh Lattanzi.
A transformative “Nightingale”
Jones took the stage, went straight for the mic, and started in on “Just a Little Bit,” not moving to the piano until mid-song. After the applause and a brief “gracias,” next up was “It was You,” followed by “Nightingale.”
The latter was for many a highlight of the show, judging by the number of phones recording, winking, and flashing through the performance and the applause that followed it. It was in fact an unexpected and transformative rendition of the song that, through the deft drum and bass work, evoked both Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus & Lucy” and a locomotive.
Jones was then all business as she played “Begin Again,” “Those Sweet Words,” “It’s a Wonderful Time for Love,” and “Sunrise.”
She traded the piano for a guitar for “Don’t Know What it Means” (a song she also plays with her other band, Puss-N-Boots) and “Come Away With Me.”
Then it was back to the piano for a mournful “After the Fall”; followed by “Black,” “Tragedy,” and “I’ve Got to See You Again”; and then a very bluesy, lingering, and interesting “Don’t Know Why” that ultimately strayed too far from the original. The concert then concluded with “Flipside,” “Don’t be Denied,” and, finally, “My Heart is Full.”
Jones rounds out the tour in Brazil (Dec. 8 and 9 in São Paulo, Dec. 11 in Curitiba, and Dec. 13 in Rio de Janeiro) and Argentina (Dec. 16 in Buenos Aires).
If You Come for a Show, Come Earlier for the Fries Across the Street
If Movistar Arena is a bit of an island sitting off to one side in Parque O’Higgins, Teatro Caupolicán is one, too, in its own way. Shoehorned into a bicycle district, there aren’t many options for food, and this even though the metal, rubber, and chain oil scents of fresh, out-of-the-box-and-assembled bikes is oddly hunger-inducing.
Luckily, there is a restaurant, Cueva del Chef, directly across from the theater that opens out onto the street and features a limited but serviceable menu of typical sandwiches (churrascos, chacareros, etc.), towering beers, and some of the best french fries anywhere—perfect oil, perfect salt, great color, chemical perfection.
Robert Travis grew up in San Francisco, California, and moved to Santiago, Chile, in July 2018. In addition to editing and writing for Chile Today, he practices law from afar with Travis & Travis. He’s thrilled to be living in the same hemisphere as “the world’s longest left,” Playa Chicama.