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Harry Connick Jr. @ The Hollywood Bowl 8/13/2010

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Harry Connick Jr. could very well be the next big thing in stand-up comedy. Playing to a packed house with members of his Big Band and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the N'awlins crooner invited the audience into his musical world--first on a sentimental journey through a songbook of cherished standards, then on a rousing trip to the Big Easy. Beyond the music, however, Connick managed to send the crowd into stitches with his meandering narrative and humorous remarks.

Despite a caveat that there was no production value to his Bowl gig of the likes of Lady Gaga or dazzling fireworks, Connick lit up the ampitheater with his soulful voice and gifted piano playing, backed by the stirring sounds of the strings and brass behind him in the bandshell.

The first half was like a literal warm-up--"Brr, it is straight up COLD out here!" hooted Connick, joking that the chilly air gave his voice a warble akin to that of Julio Iglesias. But it also was a progressive warm-up for Connick and his music, as each song showed a heightened intensity of emotion, which, if you darted your eyes from the stage to the bright electronic screens, was visible on his undeniably handsome face. It seemed almost as if Connick had tumbled out of bed, tousled and drowsy, right into a tuxedo and sat down at the piano in a favorite neighborhood bar, where he could easily extract from himself beautiful music and charm everyone with stories that could just as well have been told to an intimate group of friends pressed thigh-to-thigh in the booth of restaurant in the wee small hours.