Nelly Furtado

For an artist who all but totally eschews image and unnatural sweeteners, Nelly Furtado does a remarkably good job of being all things to all people. The Canadian-bred singer-songwriter filled Town Hall with an interesting cross-section of folks, from pre-adolescents with parents in tow to thirtysomethings with a yen for her cool-but-cushy grooves.

With:
Band: Nelly Furtado, Dean Jarvis, Lil Jaz, Kevin Saulnier, Adrian Eccleston, Russell Klyne, David Langguth, Jasmine Baird. Reviewed May 5, 2004.

For an artist who all but totally eschews image and unnatural sweeteners, Nelly Furtado does a remarkably good job of being all things to all people. The Canadian-bred Portuguese singer-songwriter filled Town Hall with an interesting cross-section of folks, from pre-adolescents with parents in tow to thirtysomething smoothies with a yen for her cool-but-cushy grooves.

Furtado’s energetic perf didn’t let down any segment of the aud, but she struggled to be heard over the bass-heavy mix at times during the 90-minute set. Things started promisingly enough, with sassy renditions of “One Trick Pony” and “Explode,” both of which allowed Furtado to flaunt a tough-chick persona not steeped in MTV cliche.

Sprinklings of sugar and spice were scattered through the evening, with songs like the wistful “Fresh Off the Boat” giving Furtado a chance to flash her quirkily engaging falsetto. A rendering of the breakthrough hit “I’m Like a Bird,” however, was tossed off blithely in one of the set’s few disengaged moments.

While sales of Furtado’s sophomore outing, “Folklore,” have been something of a bust, Gotham fans seem to have absorbed its songs fully, matching the singer note for note on the lilting, baby’s-heartbeat driven “Try.” The communication flowed both ways, with the singer personalizing her stage banter smartly, offering a history lesson about the venue’s past life as a political meeting house.

Politics, of a sort, also informed the set’s most passionate song, “Shit on the Radio.” Here, Furtado rode the tune’s sultry groove hard, scatting across the measures and kicking up a fuss reminiscent of Elvis Costello’s early performances of “Radio Radio.”

Nelly Furtado

Town Hall; 1,476 seats; $35 top

Production: Presented by Clear Channel Entertainment.

Cast: Band: Nelly Furtado, Dean Jarvis, Lil Jaz, Kevin Saulnier, Adrian Eccleston, Russell Klyne, David Langguth, Jasmine Baird. Reviewed May 5, 2004.

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