Norah Jones Closed Out Ottawa Jazz Fest with Twists and Tenderness

Confederation Park Stage, June 29

Photo: Kamara Morozuk

BY Luke PearsonPublished Jul 2, 2024

The park was packed and sight-lines were at a premium for the last big night of 2024's Ottawa Jazz Festival, with Norah Jones in the headline slot. Featuring prominently in the festival's marketing, Jones was the second of the two big guns after Laufey the previous night, and organizers could surely breathe easy gazing at the crowds for both. She entered to a soundtrack of chirping birds, which was novel and charming, setting the tone for an agreeable evening of Jones's songbook, with an emphasis on new material from this year's Visions.

The crowd was big and appreciative, but mostly took everything with the same energy. "Come Away with Me" got some notice, as well as "Sunrise" after a very pretty intro (although an ironic eye might note that the dusky orange the light tech bathed her in clearly connoted sunset), and people got moving for a Tom Waits cover during the encore, but it was mostly a time of contented basking.

There was definitely good structure to the set, starting piano heavy with Jones behind a white grand before moving into a middle section of more country adjacent material — "Out on the Road" for instance, as well as new songs "Queen of the Sea" (she looked badass playing a quick lead at the end of this one) and "Staring at the Wall," which all had a dusty bar-room shuffle that was easy to get caught up in. It all inevitably led up to "Don't Know Why" for the final encore, but there was a well-plotted path along the way that wasn't afraid to get scenic with newer material, even if it meant Jones spent less time behind the piano than some of her more casual adult contemporary fans might have expected — opinions were heard.

Jones herself was charming throughout, pointing out an errant drone at one point (a bold and reckless move so close to Parliament, according to one serious concert goer), and getting startled during the intro to "Don't Know Why" when her smartwatch's bed-time reminder went off at a responsible ten p.m. sharp — an endearingly relatable moment, ten o'clock likely a familiar nightly lodestar for many in the audience as well. Whatever their bedtime, anyone invested in the festival's success likely slept well. 

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