NATALIE COLE in concert Saturday night at Symphony Hall. One show only.Scoobie doobie doobie doo yeah . . . .
YEAH! Natalie Cole shook Symphony Hall Saturday night, and if you weren't there, you should be sorry. Cole shared her powerful voice, her wit and her soul and left the crowd wanting more.
"This is the greatest kind of hall," she said after the first few songs. "You really aren't making all that noise, are you?" The crowd quickly assured her that they were making all the noise and proceded to make more.
Polite applause for the opening act and the cheers for the U.S. Gymnastics team, introduced before Cole's performance, became a roar when Cole's band played the first few bars of one of her older hits, "Sophisticated Lady." When Cole appeared on stage, the crowd was on its feet.
The first part of the show was devoted to the "oldies but goodies" - "This Will Be," "Mister Melody," and "I've Got Love on My Mind." The latter brought the crowd to its feet again. I am most familar with Cole's newer songs - I scarcely knew these, but it didn't matter because she made the songs accessible. I felt like they were inside me all along.
She finished the oldies set with a cover of "Anyone Who Had a Heart," recorded by Dionne Warwick and Luther Vandross, then there was a change in the lighting, the musical style and the lights as she switched gears and started doing her new material. The title cut off her latest album, "Everlasting" was first, followed by "Urge to Merge," and one of her recent hits, "I Live For Your Love."
The crowd was in a great mood by this time and so was Cole. She introduced "More Than the Stars," a love song she wrote with her cousin and musical director, Eddie Cole, with "God bless you if you are here tonight with someone you love and God help you if you aren't - but don't worry, you'll get yours."
She introduced the next song in a similar manner, talking about how she is a hopeless romantic, and falls in love two or three times a day. The lead-in to the song was playing, but I didn't recognize it right away. Then she started singing the words and surprised me. Her version of her father's hit, "When I Fall In Love," was a delight - not derivative or a copy, but her own. It was uptempo, with a backbeat and lots of harmony.
Then it was time for the automotive theme - Cole sang the other two "Everlasting" hits - "Jumpstart" and "Pink Cadillac." The audience, which was not as young and wild as the crowd at most rock concerts, was finally coaxed into dancing by the infectious beat and harmony of the latter.
Cole finished the show with a powerful version of "I'm Catching Hell," which included a captivating duet with one of the backup singers, Katrina Perkins. Their voices, locked in harmony, seemed to climb up to the roof and back. "Our Love," the last song, was a little more subdued, and the crowd swayed back and forth - an ocean of people moved by Cole's music.
Every part of the show was polished. Cole's 11-piece band, which included a horn section made up of 6 members of the Salt Lake Philharmonic, was a great match for her voice and performed flawlessly.
Before she left, she said, "Now you can go home and tell all your friends what a nice evening they missed, right?" Right.