To follow up my recent summer preview, I attended Diane Birch’s first event as part of her summer residency at Joe’s Pub. Early on, I had a feeling that the evening’s show would be different than most of the happenings of the summer. It was both an impressive and relaxing night of comforting music. Diane Birch’s beauty and stunning talent was obvious to all who watched her. Every soul in the house was mesmerized.
For those of you who have never been to Joe’s Pub, it really is something else. Since this was my first time at the venue, I suspected it was going to simply be a pub and nothing more. To my surprise, the building is a monument in regard to proportions. The outside arches were lit with an alluring red glare as the good-looking people walked on up the steps. I was vastly underdressed with shorts and a t-shirt, oh well. Upon entering the space, it opened up into an immense museum style lobby. Joe’s Pub is housed at The Public Theater, which offers intimate music, forums and other aesthetic enjoyment for the NYC elite.
After I picked up my ticket at will call, I wandering over to the concert hall. Before entering, I glanced at the wall outside the main admission that had an elaborate collection of framed photographs of various artists that have attended and performed at the theater. It was very extraordinary to look at. Viewers could spend hours perusing the talent captured on that wall. Remembering why I was there, I was seated by the hostess and took a gander at the space. Joe’s Pub is a concert hall with an elegance most correlated to a jazz ballroom, like the Blue Note. On the stage was a piano surrounded by a hedge of soundproofing pyramid foam for ideal acoustics. There was a sense of calm yet an air of intense anticipation among the crowd. Most people were all relaxed in their seats eating food and sipping their drinks. Even the diversity of the crowd was fascinating. From each table to the next, there were families, elderly couples, hipsters, guys sporting strange leather attire and many young couples who were in loving embrace.
I felt honored that I was granted a spot right in front of the stage in a cushioned booth! Along the interior were giant posters and artwork all over. On the wall closest to me, there were additional celebrity photographs mashed together. Sinatra was singing with Janelle Monáe and other performers were sprawled out together in a congregation of music through time. Throughout the hall there was a cool blue and pink ambiance. Drinking a beer at my round copper table, I was excited for the show to begin.
Once Diane arrived, walking calmly to the piano and smiling to the crowd, everyone became surprisingly loud with happiness. With a round of applause she got right to it. Her introduction was a jazzy free form on the piano that eventually grew into her usual musical magic. One thing that listeners cannot grasp completely from her recordings is her piano playing in person. I have never seen a more graceful pianist who made each pluck of the keys as special as Diane. There were times where her hands were almost floating above the keys. Her piano skills are only matched by her captivating voice. Man, I love that voice of hers. Each lyric that comes out of her has deep yearning, vibrant passion and pure soul that make even the most seasoned listener’s jaw drop. How does she make each word sound so perfect?
As her voice rose throughout the hall to every corner, people closed their eyes and slightly bobbed their heads to her unique style of classical jazz. Amidst the flutter of hands and fingers she grew to be the angel of the piano. Every song made listener’s drift off and think. I loved her wails and howls that turned into powerful scatting and lingering yells. She is softly formidable. Her down to earth nature was clearly seen as she chatted to the audience and had crowd laugh. Diane Birch is amazingly beautiful and her music just adds on to it all.
With time to spare, she continued to grace us with additional songs with much praise. She made each moment count and each song last a lifetime, even after they were finished. The songs lingered in the crowd’s mind as they drifted to her musical world. A final melody was performed and she rose to a roaring applause. She thanked the audience for their attendance and then offered her presence to be shared via the merchandise table in the lobby afterwards for autographs. It was simply a perfect evening. Everyone reading this should try and catch her next two performances on August 12th and September 2nd and be amazed. This is what summer is all about!