You can use a lot of words to describe Anne Murray. Bubbly. Spritely. Perky. Funny. Even terminally cute comes immediately to mind.
While most of those among Saturday night's capacity crowd at Symphony Hall will probably not disagree with those modifiers, they would probably describe her first and foremost as "immensely satisfying."After all the songs had been sung, fans were gushing praises like "great" and "fantastic" and "wonderful." And with fan reaction like that, what else is there for a concert reviewer to do but write a glowing review?
Well, she was pretty good.
Anne Murray is one of those performers you have to struggle to find anything bad to write about her. She's got a great set of pipes. She's pretty. She's witty. She puts on an entertaining show.
If she has a flaw - and believe me her fans will not call it a flaw - it's she's just too darned perky. She's a Mary Lou Retton in her 40s the way she constantly flashed those pearly whites and tilted her head just so.
How can anyone smile so much? She'd better be careful or they will put her on a Wheaties box.
And another question. Does this lady ever get mad? Does she ever cuss or talk nasty about someone? She's just so nice it makes you want to scream, "Get real, lady!"
But no. She is content to be cute and nice all rolled into a bundle of on-stage energy. Anne Murray is just that kind of girl that every parent wishes their teenage son would bring home. And she did nothing Saturday night to tarnish that well-cultivated "girl-next-door" image.
Salt Lake fans have waited a long time for Anne Murray to return to Utah. (The last time she was scheduled a couple of years back, an illness forced a last-minute cancellation.)
There were no cancellations this time, and judging from the exuberant outbursts every time she did or said anything, it was worth the wait. In fact, this largely over-40 crowd acted a lot like teenagers at a rock concert. Their teenagers would probably be embarrassed by all that hooting and hollering.
Anne Murray certainly has a way with crowds, but with this crowd she could do absolutely no wrong. She could have stood center stage and piped, "You're all fat and Salt Lake City stinks and I'm never going to come back here again" and the partisan crowd would probably have given her a standing ovation.
Everyone knows Anne Murray is a great singer. But she is also a fine entertainer. In fact, a good share of the 90-minute show was spent relating stories, telling jokes and bantering with the audience, like poking fun at the gentleman in the third row with the binoculars.
"Just what are you looking at anyway," she quipped to the audience's delight.
There were costume changes, just a touch of body language here and there, a little bit of dancing and even a magic trick thrown in for good measure. She even tossed long-stemmed yellow roses into the crowd.
And when that was all done she even got around to singing crowd favorites like "Danny's Song" and "Love Song" and "You Won't See Me" and "You Needed Me." If it was a hit single, Anne probably played it.
She sang some of them sweet and simple with acoustic guitars; she sang others with full accompaniment and a deep, rich vocal interpretation. And she delivered them all with what seemed like no effort at all. She never strained to hit a high note nor struggled to hit a low note (though she joked about it plenty).
But just when you're about to write off Anne Murray as just another pretty voice, she comes at you with some surprisingly powerful renditions of songs like "Cotton Jenny" and "Shadows in the Moonlight" and "Could I Have This Dance," which not only was her finale but was the evening's best.
With the entire audience singing the chorus, it was a fitting end to a "satisfying" evening.