k.d. lang

The Smith Center, July 13

As she crooned “I’ll Be Your Daddy” on the opening song “I Confess,” cheers for k.d. lang erupted from the largely female audience. Framed by vintage spotlights, lang oozed androgynous sex appeal into the packed house. Backed by her talented Siss Boom Bang band, lang’s voice was a strong female version of Elvis Presley or Roy Orbison, crooning through “Summer Fling,” “The Water’s Edge” and “Miss Chatelaine.”

As she smiled and interacted with those nearest the stage, lang added with a laugh, “I’m not a betting woman, but I would bet we have a few performers in the audience. And I’m trying to make my choreography perfect for you.” Her moves were a delightful cross between Pee Wee Herman, James Brown and the Pat character from Saturday Night Live. “I know we have a lot of freaks,” lang added to rousing applause. “I bet within the confines of The Smith Center, we have the finest freaks!”

Throwing in covers as well, lang’s rendition of the Talking Heads’ “Heaven” was commendable. Her interpretation of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” was a beautifully tortured take on the favorite, garnering goose bumps and an ovation.

When lang said that the banjo is a chick magnet, superfans abandoned their seats to dance in the front aisles for “Sorrow Nevermore.” Expectedly closing her show with “Constant Craving,” lang returned for two encores, her voice only warbling once when a fan climbed onstage to dance with her. Closing with “A Kiss to Build a Dream On,” (originally her duet with Tony Bennett), it seemed lang could have continued for hours, each note as strong as the first. ★★★★☆

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The song starts with a big piano buildup. In just a few bars, it produces that complex feel of anticipation you get when walking into a glamorous party—one that might be dangerous for your reputation. The rising tension releases into a silky, sultry voice that sings of one woman’s many allures: Mercury risin’ at the touch of her skin/The power of perfume keeps on pulling me in/It’s like tangerine honey/What could I do? Backed by a 10-piece band, it’s at once jazzy, swinging and a plaintive cry of a not-quite regret. The song is “Tangerine Honey,” and it seduces the ear.