“I’m always so damned nervous when I play L.A.,” says Linda Eder. But Eder’s self-assurance belies this opening: she moves confidently through a program that encompasses Broadway standards, rock evergreens, songs by “the man who writes all my original material — my husband Frank Wildhorn,” and even a Christmas tune. The result is vocally vivid, but uneven as a concert. Control, power and perfect pitch are the assets; a lack of focus as she travels from one genre to another is the fault.
Striding onstage in burgundy tuxedo pantsuit, Eder kicked off things with a pulsating, jazz-flavored “It’s No Secret Anymore,” then settled more soulfully into “Someone Like You” from “Jekyll and Hyde.” Eder’s delicate renditions with a few instruments, or a cappella, are the times her magic comes across most fully.
High point of the night is her teasing counterpoint with sax player David Mann. Both hold notes and compete to see who can sustain them longest, until Eder cries “truce!”
Her anthem, “I Want More,” works for all women who think men aren’t giving them the love they’re entitled to, and murmurs could be heard from approving females in the crowd, including such comments as “Show ’em, Linda, show those bastards.” More touching and memorable is “If I Should Lose My Way,” although Eder allies it to Sept. 11, and there seems to be no clear connection.
To her credit, Eder consistently expresses admiration for her gifted band, and allows them co-starring moments.
“Gold,” theWildhorn-Nan Knighton song featured on her new eponymous Atlantic album and performed at the 2002 Winter Olympics, showcases Eder at her strongest. Written for a future Broadway musical, “Camille Claudel,” the tune is inspirational (if modern for its subject and period), and Eder sings it withemotion.
Tackling soft rock standards, she scores with a sensitive performance of Boz Scaggs’ “We’re All Alone,” but seems miscast with “Son of a Preacher Man.” A song that says, “Being good isn’t always easy — no matter how hard I try,” needs the sexy, smoky attitude Dusty Springfield gave it. Eder and her band go full blast and minimize the funky, daringly sensual core of the material. This rousing treatment is more excitingly employed on “I, Don Quixote,” in which she sustains a high B and brings the audience to its feet.