The festival and all its accoutrements has returned. Droves of American high-school theatre groups plague the city with their flyers and their 'theatrical behavior'. The town chatters in a thousand and one languages and all of them babbling amazement at the city I have somehow been lucky enough to call home for the last four years. I have already seen some great shows. I went to a jazz open session. The house band invited anyone in the audience to come up and jam. Modulo one unfortunate incident the results were incredible. The incident I mention concerned an Australian girl. How do I know she was Australian? Because the first thing she giggled was that she was Australian and she hadn't sung with a band in four years (god please make it another four years before she thrusts her talentless larynx upon the stage again). She giggled and babbled as the band struck up her requested tune of 'Fever'. She knew the chorus and that's it. So here we have some silly little girl who wanted attention standing in front of a group of people who have dedicated themselves for years to hone their art. They have to playback up to someone who should be lifting their shirt for mardi gras beads, not mumbling the lines to a jazz standard. So, it is now my mission to find the themed bar she works at and as she pours a pint of beer, I will flick a dried cat turd at her which is the metaphorical equivalent to what she did to those musicians when they were working.
However there was justice to be had that night. After a couple tenor sax players played a few tunes, another singer asked to perform. There was a palatable discontent in the room that remained until the nervous and shy singer, who held the lyrics in her hand on a crumpled piece of paper, belted out screaming Jay's words, 'I put a spell on you'. That girl had soul and lungs to match. Once the song was over there was the loudest cheer yet heard. The band invited her to do another song which was just as good but I don't know the name of it or the original artist. She got another huge applause when she stepped of the stage. Moments later, the Australian with male companion sulked out.
The final songs also had a singer. A middle aged woman named Rene. She must have been a professional becomes she knew how to control the audience and the drunk piano player. She moved everyone like chess pieces. She invited the shy singer, Iona, back of the stage to sing 'What a difference a day makes'. Rene sang everything with a fierce sensuality that made me blush on every tune. Iona seemed nervous to be singing a song she had not prepared for but Rene was amazing with her patience and encouragement. Once Iona gets the confidence to match her pipes, she'll do alright.
For me, it was an amazing evening. Musicians perform a magic I cannot fathom and when you see them perform these feats it really closes in on witnessing the sublime.