Lisa Fischer: vocals
JC Maillard: guitar
Aidan Carroll: bass
Thierry Arpino: drums, percussion
Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton braved an unusually cold Thursday night to heat up Fischer's many fans at the famed Yoshi's in Oakland CA. The live music and restaurant venue in Jack London Square hosted an overflowing house that showed its enthusiasm for Fischer throughout the set.
During the brief warm up, an East Bay couple sitting nearby talked about how much they enjoyed the talented Fischer. After the opening "File" song finished, the group received hearty applause and she introduced her seasoned band members: JC Maillard, musical director, vocals, guitar, keyboards, SazBass; Thierry Arpino, drums and percussion; and Aidan Carroll, upright and electric bass. The set included: "File," "Last Goodbye," "Blues in the Night/Dido's Lament," "Heart & Soul/Fever," "How Can I Ease The Pain," "Immigrant Song/Fragile," "Jumping Jack Flash" and "Message in a Bottle."
The Grammy winning artist apologized for drinking plenty of water because she, "didn't want to pass on" what she had to her faithful fans. On the next song, "Blues," she commented, "Reminds me of my mom and you'll see why." This bluesy tune of life lessons featured one of Maillard's distinctive guitar solos with Flamenco and Indian flavors. During her smoldering version of "Heart & Soul/Fever," Fischer holding two microphones, strolled to one of the front tables and seductively said to a patron, "Hey daddy, you smell so good." The bespectacled fan was smiling as he melted.
"How Can I Ease The Pain," Fischer's ever popular Grammy winner from the 1991 album So Intense mesmerized the Yoshi's crowd. While performing her signature song, she employed two microphones for special effect. Maillard contributed on keyboards during the number. The track garnered a standing ovation. She said, "That was depressing. Time for happy songs." Fischer continually brings unique arrangements to popular songs that consistently make her performances surprisingly fresh. Her "Immigrant Song" (Led Zeppelin) /"Fragile" (Sting) medley was another fine example of the artist's marvelous vocal style. Her cover of the Rolling Stones staple "Jumping Jack Flash" was well received. At one point in the session, an excited supporter yelled from the rear of the room, "We Love You Lisa!" The songstress happily replied, "We love you too."
Fischer made a new fan this night that commented, "She was captivating! Her voice was a high soprano with a mixture of a low alto in one chorus. It was astounding to hear her range in one familiar song, like 'Heart & Soul.' Her rendition of many old favorites was remarkable. At times I felt she didn't need a microphone. Her voice echoed in Yoshi's like a bird singing love songs in a cave. My favorite part was the Middle Eastern song done by the guitarist and she moved to the song so culturally and eloquently at the same time, I wanted to get up and do my own version of belly dancing. The experience was special." The visitor added that she was just happy to be there.
When the last song was concluded, Fisher left the stage to a raucous standing ovation from the capacity audience. Lisa Fischer's weeknight set at Yoshi's was subtle and effective. After the show, another fan told the drummer how much she enjoyed the show and how "Spiritual" the performance felt. It was a special night indeed. (Walter Atkins, www.allaboutjazz.com)