Review: Holly Cole with Vancouver Symphony, Dec 15/16, 2004

Holly Cole in concert with Vancouver Symphony, Dec 15/16, 2004

Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver BC.

Holly Cole puts on a wonderful Christmas concert.  Wednesday's show was the 5th time I had seen the Christmas concert with the Vancouver Symphony.  This Canadian jazz-diva, loves to put the “spin” in her jazz interpretations as well as the “twist” into her Christmas songs. She delights in finding the irony to innocent songs such as Dedicated to the One I Love, The Street Where You Live, Trust In Me, and for this Christmas Concert, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, turning them into songs of obsession.  As well she is not afraid of explore the deeper and darker aspects of Christmas, and includes such songs as “If We Can Make It Through December”, and “2000 Miles” in her set list.

Holly was born for Christmas.  In fact, she was named Holly, because she was born exactly one month before Christmas on November 25th, and she has always delighted in exploring all the aspects of Christmas… dark… light… joyful… depressive… hopeful… sad…   This latest Christmas concert was no exception.  Great concert. Holly was having so much fun, she was actually jumping up and down when she walked on stage, and as she talked to the audience between songs.

She opened with a high energy Santa song which I didn't recognize… then transitioned into the Vince Guerardi (Chalrlie Brown Christmas) song “Christmas Time” is here. Old Black Magic followed, then she introduced a topic about Christmas time being the spirit of giving… but pointed out that if there is giving then there must be “getting.” “Here's a song about the getting”… Santa Baby.

The songs of the evening included old chestnuts, and surprises. Lots of Christmas songs not recorded on her Christmas collections, the most recently released “Baby, It's Cold Outside.

She started to introduce a song that she wanted to dedicate to her dog… and went into a story about Rhoda, her Belgian shepherd, and how although she had passed away, singing this song always made her think of her… and then she went into another story about the last time she was in Vancouver at the Orpheum and brought Rhoda out on stage – a dog in the audience barked! Somebody had a seeing eye dog… and anyways this dog barked. Then somebody in the audience barked. “Me and My Shadow.”

Other than giving you the set list – which might ruin some surprise tunes for you.  Holly finished the main part of her show with the song that she normally describes as “spiritual” – her stunning version of the Johnny Nash classic that she has made her own, “I Can See Clearly Now.”  This particular in-concert version builds from the opening bass lines and piano runs.  Halfway through, it suddenly swells with the lush accompaniment of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.  It builds to a peak with a saxophone solo joining the orchestra to its transcendent finale. 

Holly and her band took their bows, and walked off stage, returning after the usual applause.  My girlfriend called for an encore, shouting out “Baby It's Cold Outside,” until she remembered… “Oh yeah… it's a duet.”  But Holly did perform “Baby, It's Cold Outside,” on her last Christmas tour in 2001. Her drummer Mark Kelso sang the Ed Robertson lines.  But this time… Hollye had a new drummer with her and while he did some background vocals, he did NOT do the duet “Baby It's Cold Outside” with Holly… darn…

Surprise unexpected encore… “Calling You” from the Canadian produced film “Bagdhad Cafe,”  followed by an old chestnut – “Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday.”

Good concert… Wonderful Holiday tradition

Interesting notes…  Mark Fewer, the newly appointed VSO concertmaster performed on the “Baby, It's Cold Outside” album as part of the album orchestra – performing Baby, It's Cold Outside, Santa Baby, 'Zat You Santa Claus, Wildwood Carol, and What is this Lovely Fragrance?

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