Event Recap: Norah Jones at The Riverside Theater & Dinner at Rumpus Room
Sundays in the fall in Wisconsin are typically reserved for Packers games, but last weekend I decided to shake off routine for some downtown adventure. Fortunately, there is never a lack of entertainment in Milwaukee, even after the summer festival season. To my delight, Norah Jones was playing at the historic Riverside Theater. To my surprise (and delight), I wasn’t the only cheesehead willing to step away from the game, the concert was sold out and with good reason – Norah Jones is as captivating as ever.
We started the evening by strolling to Water Street for dinner at Rumpus Room. The restaurant was a pleasant mix of theater patrons and a few leftover stragglers from Halloween. We were quickly led past a sprawling bar that seemed to go the length of a city block to a large yet cozy dining room. After perusing the menu, we opted for the Scotch Egg as a starter and ordered the Rumpus Burger and Steak Frites for the table to share. The Scotch Egg was new to everyone at the table and won us over as an ideal fall starter. A soft-boiled egg wrapped in sausage, breaded and fried, with one bite the egg yolk drips on to a bed of arugula and caramelized onions for a balance of sweet and bitter flavors. The burger was hefty and flavorful and the steak frites were hearty and delicious. We were pleasantly full with just enough room for the highlight of our meal, Vanda Brown’s Sticky Toffee Pudding. The pudding was served warm and smothered in a sweet toffee sauce, topped with whipped cream and pecans. We wrapped up our meal and walked about a half mile along the Riverwalk to the theater.
Riverside Theater was brimming with fans ready to take in the soulful tunes of Norah Jones. The concert started promptly at 8:00PM with opener Adriel Denae, who was delightful and started the evening singing solo on a dark stage with just her voice and a piano. Similar in sound to Jones, her voice bellowed through the theater. About 45 minutes later, Denae exited and Jones took the stage with her band.
Dressed in a long-sleeved, lace, black mini dress with tan boots, Norah Jones immediately sat at the piano and belted out the song “Turn me on” from her first album, “Come Away With Me”. Norah Jones has a voice that is recognizable and completely her own. Sultry and sophisticated, her voice is a refreshing sound in a sea of sugary pop culture princesses. She continued to command the stage with her band briefly pausing to speak to the audience about her Halloween costume and for quick quips like “What’s up?” and “I love this place.”
The entire set lasted a little over an hour and featured a mixture of songs from her first album as well as new songs from her recent album and a cover of Neil Young, where she brought Denae back to the stage. Jones is versatile and showed off her chops on a variety of instruments. While she is known for her skills on the piano, she is also fluent on the synthesizer and guitar and spent a few songs standing and singing with a guitar slung over her shoulder. Her band was electric and were a major influence in adding energy to the set from her guitarist to drummer, they were clearly excited to be performing with Norah and vice versa. The show ended with a quick encore that almost felt like a lullabye, a wonderful close to a legendary performance.