Self-mocking humor highlights k.d. lang's solid performance

Concert

Review

Joey Guerra

Entertainment Editor

"What concert would be complete ... without a medley," announced k.d. lang during the first of two encores during her recent show at the Music Hall.

Deciding she and her band would assume the identities of "Las Vegas showpeople," lang launched into "a little medley of my hit," the Grammy-winning "Constant Craving."

That instance showcased two of lang's strongest points: her self-mocking, coolly casual sense of humor, and a strong, appreciative fan base unconcerned with record sales and hit singles. They were simply there to have a good time.

Working mostly from her latest album, drag, a collection of "songs about smoking and addiction," lang showcased a voice that was sultry and in perfect form. The effect was often thrilling.

Songs like "Don't Smoke in Bed," "Smoke Dreams" and "My Old Addiction" showcased the album's, and lang's, "smoky" allure. She pranced and twirled around the stage endlessly in her tailored, pin-striped suit, inciting laughter and applause from the audience. Lang also got plenty of help from her impressive backup singers, the "Smoke Ringettes."

"The Joker," The Steve Miller Band's hit from the early '70s, became a wry twist of irony in lang's hands. She also camped it up to hilarious heights during "Miss Chaterlaine," complete with bubbles, a glitterball and a swaying rumba beat.

"An album ... Lingerie I think it was called," lang joked, in reference to Ingenue, her most successful recording from which "Miss Chaterlaine" was taken.

In comparison to lang's last show in Houston in support of her album All You Can Eat (which was conspicuously skipped over), this performance was surprisingly low-key. Held over from last time, though, were the solid tributes to Roy Orbison ("Cryin'" and "Tonight") and Patsy Cline ("Two Cigarettes in an Ashtray").

Lang also touched on her "effervescent, but short, film career," which amounted to the little-seen indie flick Salmonberries and the poignant number, "Barefoot."

"Hey, I'll be back," lang vowed. "You should've seen the phones ringing after that Ellen episode."

"The Air that I Breathe," was another showstopper, showcasing the palpable longing in lang's soothing, haunting vocals. The singer was showered with countless bouquets and cheers throughout the nearly-two-hour show which, for many adoring, enthusiastic fans, was over all too soon.

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