Best known for her electro-pop and trip-hop songs performed together with her musical partner Leon Somov, on October 21, 2015, Lithuanian songstress, Jazzu, came to the Vilnius Philharmonic to perform a solo jazz set, which largely comprised of cover songs.
Following a piano introduction by pianist Kęstutis Pavalkis, the famously outspoken pro-LGBT singer took to the centre of the stage wearing a pink dress, and told the expectant, well-heeled audience “when I first started making music, I never understood why you would want to sing somebody else’s songs. But well, this is what I’m doing tonight,” she smiled.
Beginning her meaningful, 17-song set with Skriski Lietuvėlėn, Jazzu’s opening number was enhanced by the back of the Philharmonic’s stage being lit by the yellow, green and red of the Lithuanian flag. From her 2015 album, Istorijos, Skriski Lietuvėlėn, was one of three songs she chose to perform in Lithuanian throughout the evening; the rest all in English.
Over the course of her two-hour performance, Jazzu seemed engrossed in her lyrics, Pavalkis’ piano accompaniments and later on, Marius Sakavičius’ cello when he joined around the half-way mark.
Her vocal range, which extends from the beautifully whispering, the soaring, to the aggressive, was on full display, as she switched between the Diana Krall-esque 1952 jazz standard, Twisted, to a heartachingly delicate rendition of Beverley Craven’s Promise Me.
Supplementary to her vocal abilities, is Jazzu’s gift of captivating an audience. Her public’s age-range spanned between families with young children and teenagers, 20-somethings, to seasoned philharmonic goers. Mouths mouthed lyrics, and hands clapped enthusiastically after each song. After each song, Jazzu thanked the audience. Most importantly, nobody used their iPhone once… Her gripping vocals seemed to make the Vilnius Philharmonic’s expansive main hall diminish in size.
Her adaptation of Elton John’s 1989 hit, Sacrifice, was equally as affecting with her voice verging on the fragile as Pavalkis opened the number with a soft, floating piano chords. In contrast, her next number, a cover of Tom Odell’s bitterly cynical Another Love, saw Jazzu make the best use of the lyric “f**k” since the Pretenders 1980 single, Precious.
Jazzu also treated the Philharmonic’s audience to a yet-to-be released song entitled Get A Life – an impassioned track which built in tone, and featured the storming chorus “I won’t come, get back, get real, get a life”; its anger a contrast to the accompanying piano and cello. Beforehand, only Somov, Pavalkis and Sakavičius had heard the track.
Her 2013 hit, Lower Than The Ground, was also given the stripped-down treatment. It resulted in yet another raw, emotion packed performance, which led to the set-closer, a powerful cover of Cher’s 1998 single, Believe, which saw Jazzu accompanied by just Pavalkis’ piano.
This wasn’t a traditional Jazzu concert, but it was never promised to be. Her astonishing vocal range, intelligent adaptations of tracks from different genres and love for music gave the crowd plenty to go home happy about. It would be doubtful that at any point of the evening, that there was a dry eye in the house.
Next stop, London?
All photos: Paulina Ružauskaitė.