Fresh off her Tony award winning role as Yitzhak in Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway, Lena Hall can now be found performing (through April 18th) cabaret style at the Café Carlyle. The venue’s producers allowed her to have free reign over her selections which allowed her to sing the songs she wanted to sing because they touched or inspired her as her backing band, Watt White on guitar, John Deley on keys, Lee Nadel on bass and her future brother-in-law Brian Fishler on drums, supported her. Her seventy minute set was fun and varied, with a bunch of the newer material probably going over the heads of some older folks in the crowd. She joked, “I’m doing very appropriate songs for this room. But you know, I’m Lena Hall so, I do what I want.” to audience applause and laughter.
Hall’s selection varied with a mix including soul from James Brown and rock from the likes of Jack White and Jet. Her voice definitely favors the rock tunes and her take on White’s “Three Women” sounded great as did a cover of new-comer Hozier’s “Take Me to Church”. In particular Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s World”, and Janelle Monáe’s “Tightrope” to some extent (it “might have been the first rap at the Carlyle” mused Hall), didn’t seem to have the same pain or passion as the originals though they were nice selections. I was half-hoping Hall would rock out like Ms. Monáe but alas she didn’t, probably because of her footwear (the only comment I’ll make about her attire, you can check out Page Six if you need to know who she was wearing).
Unlike the two performers I had seen at the venue previously, Buster Poindexter and Bettye Lavette, Hall wasn’t big on story-telling, occasionally laughing off the small comments she made between songs. But before her final song, Hall shared some heartfelt words. She thanked the audience for coming admitting, “Today, I was a little scared. I’m just gonna be honest with you. I’m known for my honesty. But now I’m not scared anymore.” She then dedicated the final number, McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” to her dad upon which the audience aww-ed.
Lena Hall 4/7/2015 setlist:
Three Women (Jack White)
Dazed and Confused (Led Zeppelin)
It Ain’t Easy (Ron Davies)
God (Tori Amos)
Psycho Killer (Talking Heads)
Are you Gonna Be My Girl (Jet)
Save Me (Queen)
Lake of Fire (Meat Puppets)
Otherside of the Game (Erykah Badu)
It’s a Man’s Man’s World (James Brown)
Can’t Find My Way Back Home (Steve Winwood)
Take me to Church (Hozier)
Have Mercy on the Criminal (Elton John)
Tightrope (Janelle Monáe)
Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul McCartney)