There are few nationally touring acts I feel the need to see each and every time they come through town. Kat Edmonson is one of those very few. I love jazzy gal singers, my wife loves jazzy gal singers, its something we agree on wholeheartedly when it comes to music and Kat is the peak of mixing traditional standards with a new flair. Her band is always prime and I have grown to love her guitar player, Steve Elliot’s, style and swagger. The guy really immerses himself into his player. This time around she was lacking the extra percussion player I have grown to love though! This isn’t so much a review of the show as it is a review of the venue. With the poise, grace and humor that defines Edmonson as a performer, she rolled with what I assume was rather tough gig to get through with a huge smile and confidence. The sound, however, in the house was not something to smile at quite as much. From the first note I gave my lady the “oh sh*t, this isn’t going to be good” look. When the band would launch into the higher volume songs, I was on the edge of my seat awaiting for the low end hum to overtake the sound coming from the speakers. There were a few close calls and much of the time I found the singers voice lost in the mix. A shame given the gift that she truly encompasses as a vocalist and songwriter. There were some high points, of course. Her stripped down, slowed version of her popular hit “Lucky” is always a treat and puts her vocal control on full display. What I am chalking up to a result of some of the sound mixing issues, she even came out and performed an acapella version of “Summertime”.
I will say that Edmonson’s genuine appreciation for the crowd when she comes to Boston is a real treat for the audience and she glows with delight as people focus in on her performance. She made the very best out of a sub-par engineering job and gave the audience the best possible show with a giant smile. I commend her for that.
Another off putting part about this show, though, is the room. What could be a fantastic set up with wonderful performances is ruined by the need to sell more tickets and pack in as many folks as possible. My wife had a giant divot in her leg at the end of the night from her shin pressing into the seat in front her and I am still pretty sure my back is out of alignment from having to sit sideways and crooked. This alone put a damper on the evening for me from the start. Part of the joy in seeing Kat perform is watching her facial expressions, the way she focuses on her players when they are taking solos and how that little smirk of enjoyment comes over her face when they improvise something new and exciting. That was lost due to an overcrowded room and the backs of my neighboring patrons heads.
I will say that had I been out for a night of cocktails and food, I would not have been disappointed. Our server was fairly accessible and checked back often. Though the way my body was contorted could have ended up with a lap full of appetizer.
Needless to say, I won’t be heading back to the RegattaBar anytime soon for any performance unless something changes, no matter who is coming through town.