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Written by - Shari Rowe

Madeleine Peyroux
Smothers Theatre (Malibu, CA) - 02/18/2007

The two roses placed on the piano of Madeleine Peyroux’s Sunday night set at Pepperdine University’s Smothers Theatre in Malibu, CA was the signpost pointing to what would become a rewarding evening.    The theatre, a small, comfortable venue with every seat afforded a direct view of the stage, provided an acoustically sound performance.  The show began with special guest, Richard Julian, whose biting, yet humorous commentary on the world at large was delivered in a Steve Forbert-like manner.  But, of course, the rose of the evening was Madeleine Peyroux’s nearly one and a half hour set that encompassed 15 songs including one encore song, “Smile,” from her latest album.

With a appreciative crowd, mostly 40 years old and over, (I’m 26, which shows that her audience is expanding), she sent everyone home mostly satiated, although not drenched, with wonderful songs from her fuller body of work left not sung.  She began the show with “Blue Alert,” a lyrical beauty from the Leonard Cohen catalogue, songs that Madeleine Peyroux loves to adapt to the Peyroux model.  The beginning of the show revealed a charming nervousness but four songs into the set, she sang her remolded “Everybody’s Talkin’” from her latest album, Half the Perfect World, as warmly and as beautifully as we would expect from her talent.  The song that everyone waited for, myself included, was, naturally, nearer the end of the set, “Dance Me to the End of Love,” another Cohen prize refitted to the smoky Peyroux mystique.

Madeleine Peyroux and her assembled 4-piece band that included the introduced Ken Baker (Piano/Organ), John Harrington (Guitars), RJ Miller (Drums), (I did not catch the name of the Upright Bassist - apologies to him), filled an evening with a nice overview of her albums that included her last two big sellers, Careless Love, and the recently released Half the Perfect World.  Her performances of the 15-tune set list were wonderful.  Throwing in a joke or two for banter, she seemed surprised when she realized that the audience in attendance was NOT students of Pepperdine but rather an older crowd.

She gave her audience the jazzy blues that they came to see and hear and they gave her back an appreciative nod.  The exchange might not have been a balanced one with the audience on the stingy side, but the respect was there.  And a sold out house showed (with at least one 26 year old that I was aware of) that they came to hear her sing.  Missed songs were “River” and what would be a grand closer encore tune, “This is Heaven to Me.”

I’m serious Madeleine…”This is Heaven to Me” is a perfect closer.  Look at the lyrics.  And it’s a lullabye, a goodnight song.

Myself?  I’m looking forward to her next show that I can attend.

Visit Madeleine Peyroux at



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