Winner of 3 Grammy awards, 2 Emmy Awards, and 2 Tony nominations, Harry Connick Jr. chose to perform the very first night of his ‘Every Man Should Know’ Tour at The Lyric in Baltimore on Wednesday, June 19th.
He told the packed house at The Lyric, “I have no words to tell you how excited I am to be here in front of you tonight. First of all, I’m honored that you guys came out…I love your town. I love all the people here. I love the food here. Is there anyone whose never seen me perform before”? With a sense of humor he then said, “You’re gonna walk out of here and be fulfilled. You’re gonna be fulfilled with something. I’m not sure what!”
The live performance of the song “Love Wins” at The Lyric was inspirational and gave me hope.
The concert featured a variety of music styles showcasing his piano technique and vocals through standards, swing, pop, and New Orleans-inspired jazz. It also gave him the opportunity to promote his latest album entitled ‘Every Man Should Know.’ This is his 30th studio album and the 7th on which he has written and arranged every single track. About writing the album Connick explains, “I don’t recall ever reaching quite as deeply—or confidently—into my inhibition pool.” A highlight of the album is the song “One Fine Thing” which was recently performed on David Letterman. The music is smooth and the lyrics, for example, “When I’m dreaming, I love you. And I know that there is just one version of you” are thoughtful and romantic.
With the exception of the string section, the band all had their white dress shirts untucked and Mr. Connick Jr. just wore a plain black shirt and pants. The audience at The Lyric Opera House with men in their suits and ties and ladies wearing their beautiful dresses were more dressed up than the performers on stage. The laid-back wardrobe of the band was a reflection of the concert which was unpolished.
Mr. Connick Jr. admitted to the audience that he usually doesn’t rehearse for tours, but this time spent 5 days preparing. He also said, “We made so many mistakes you wouldn’t even believe it.” Mr. Connick Jr. may have needed more rehearsal since mistakes occurred like forgetting lyrics to several songs including “This Nearly Was Mine” from South Pacific. He admitted to the audience that he wrote the lyrics on the floor of the stage but the print wasn’t large enough so that is why he messed up. Why didn’t he have the song memorized in the first place? This lack of preparation is inexcusable and not acceptable of a man who has won 3 Grammy Awards.
A moving part of the concert was a song that he said was “personally more important than any other song we are going to do tonight. In my band for years and years was a guy named Jimmy Greene, a tenor player. He is incredible. He is the real deal. Well, to make a long story very short, his daughter Ana Grace was killed in the Newtown shooting. Six years old. And none of us have been the same since.” Costing him ten pizzas, Mr. Connick Jr. brought musicians together to record a song he wrote called “Love Wins” in which all the proceeds go to the Ana Grace Fund. The recording features Kim Burrell, Doobie Powell, Nikki Ross, Jonathan Dubose, jr., and, of course, Jimmy Greene on tenor saxophone. The live performance of the song “Love Wins” at The Lyric was inspirational and gave me hope. The beautiful string section was especially pleasing to the ear.
For the most part the concert was enjoyable, but lacked the polish expected out of a professional Grammy Award winning entertainer. Granted it was the first night of the tour, but many of the mistakes would not have occurred if more preparation would have been made. Connick was on stage for over two hours with no intermission and the audience was getting a little restless. Having such a wide variety of music in the concert also made it difficult to please since some audience members favored the standards while others favored the gospel and others favored New Orleans-inspired jazz. I am sure that the concert will get better over the period of the tour as they learn their material and gauge which songs audiences want to hear.
Running Time: 2 hours and 10 minutes with no intermission.