New York City Article
The Café Carlyle
35 E 76th Street, (212) 744-1600
Through February 2
“It’s funny ‘cause it’s true!” That idea was most eloquently expressed by that eminent sage and philosopher, Krusty the Clown; but the reverse is also true: some ideas are especially meaningful because they’re anything but true. Dianna Agron begins her return engagement at the Carlyle with Nancy Sinatra’s “I’m Not The Loving Kind,” and then proceeds to demonstrate precisely the opposite: through the show, she’s warm, friendly, funny, engaging, and, yes, loving. The Glee star is also highly musical, and to that end she put together a first-rate seven piece band, with three rhythm (including her major accompanist Gill Landry, on guitar), three strings (with arrangements by Margot, on violin) and the inimitable Jeffrey Miller on trombone as a one man brass section. The repertoire is equally ambitious, with songs ranging in sources from the 1911 “Oh, You Beautiful Doll” to one of Bruce Springsteen’s most affecting ballads, “If I Should Fall Behind.” Most of the set list derives from her “foremothers,” those blonde chanteusi of decades past, including Miss Sinatra, Doris Day (“You Belong to Me”), Nico and the Velvet Underground (“These Days,” “After Hours”) and two slices of Peggy Lee’s repertoire, one of her most obscure (“I Wanna Be Seduced”) and one of her most famous (“Is That All There Is”). The latter is delivered in a combination of spoken word and sung, but both set to the tune of an out-of-kilter waltz that suggests a walk on the Weill side. She and Margot also duet rather adorably on Roger Edens’s “charm song” “On How to be Lovely” (from Funny Face), and she also finds her individual own way to be self-deflatingly seductive on “I Want to Be Evil” on the very spot where Eartha Kitt delivered it a dozen years ago. Like the best current Carlyle headliners - Steve Tyrell in particular is a master at this - Ms. Agron makes the evening feel less like a formal performance and more like a private party; if we don’t happen to be close personal friends of her when we walk in, we more than feel that way by the time we leave.
photo credit: David Andrako
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)