Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Concert Review: Harry Connick Jr. at Arsht Center

This past Saturday night, as I was getting ready to leave my house to drive to Miami, I watched as my wife of 26 years was “just finishing up.” I noticed that everything was perfect. Her clothes, her makeup, her hair—all perfect. I thought to myself, how lucky I am that my wife still goes to all this effort for me. It was at that moment I realized it wasn’t for me: It was for this Harry Connick Jr. guy we were going to see!

When we arrived at the Adrienne Asht Center and entered the lobby of the John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall, there were many other ladies looking their best, like my wife.  We were early, and we engaged in conversation with a few groups of these ladies. When the conversation pivoted toward Connick, the near mention of his name turned these lovely women into teenage girls swooning over their first crush. They all had the same look and had the same dreamy-eyed chant “Oh Harry, You are my Christian Grey!”

I thought to myself, these women are helplessly in love with this man who hasn’t played a note yet or sang a word. I was very jealous. Jealous of his good looks, charisma and the spell he was able to cast over these women with his down-to-earth, down-home, aw-shucks N’ Orleans way about him.

As we entered the Knight concert hall, we found it to be an intimate setting with no bad seats. The stage was set very simply: no special effects or large screens, as that would not be Harry’s style. There was a place for the brass section, bass, a percussion section and, front and center, an absolutely gorgeous pearly gray grand piano. As the band played, the setting was more like listening to the hometown band in an upscale nightclub in New Orleans. The acoustics in this theatre were absolutely perfect.

He started his show with the classic “Just in Time,” which everyone loved and sang along to, tapping their feet to the beat. I think everyone in the theater was expecting an evening of Connick’s classics but were steered in a different direction. His set list included deep album cuts performed in jazzier arrangements than usual.

Besides being an entertainer who’s skilled at engaging the audience with his stories and humor, Connick also gives his all in the music he is playing. It couldn’t be clearer how much he truly loves what he is playing. About five songs in to the set, he told a story of a conversation he and his father had about what songs people want to hear at his shows. His father said that some of the older songs that brought him to fame meant a lot to the audience. With that, Harry went right into “It Had to Be You.”

As the show progressed, various band members were featured to liven things up even more. The trumpet player that Connick kept referring to as “the best-looking guy in the band” came out with some great trumpet solos. One of the most entertaining and fun band members was Lucien Barbarin. He came out and not only did a few trombone solos but had one of the best Louis Armstrong impressions I have seen. It really delighted this cool crowd.

What a wonderful experience it was seeing a future Hall of Famer. I must admit by the end of the show, just like my wife and all the other women in attendance, I too was in love with Harry!

Set List

Just In Time

I Concentrate On You

You Don’t Know Me

Tico Tico (solo piano)

It Had To Be You

Bourbon Street

Baby Won’t You Please Come Home

Jesus on the Mainline

I Got a Woman

One Fine Thing

City Beneath the Sea

How Great Thou Art

Come By Me

Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans

Mardi Gras In New Orleans

Harry Connick Jr. also performs Wednesday, Feb. 11 at the Kravis Center, 701 Okeechobee Blvd. in West Palm Beach. Tickets are currently sold out, but standbys may be available by calling the box office at 561/832-7469.

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