Review: Betty Buckley Enchants at Joe's Pub

Seeing Betty Buckley at Joe's Pub on May 16th was an experience of sublime perfection.

By: May. 20, 2024
Review: Betty Buckley Enchants at Joe's Pub
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The evening at Joe's Pub began with a captivating instrumental featuring Tony Marino on bass, Adam Rogers on guitar, Jamey Haddad on drums, and Christian Jacob, the evening's music director, on piano. This set the stage for a night of musical brilliance and exceptional artistry. As Betty Buckley entered to rapturous applause, dressed in sparkling black with her silver hair glowing, it was clear we were in for a treat.

From the first notes of "It's a Lovely Day Today," (from Irving Berlin's Call Me Madam) Betty’s iconic voice resonated through the intimate venue. It was the perfect start to an evening that blended new songs and beloved classics. Betty described it as “a selection of new songs with ones I feel like singing peppered in,” and it truly was a collage of perfection.

Betty Buckley is unparalleled when it comes to song interpretation. I’d go as far to say she is the master’s master. Her haunting rendition of "Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell left an indelible mark; her delivery of "I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time" is still echoing in my heart. Adam Rogers’ guitar solo, one of many, was masterful. Another standout moment was her performance of Jason Robert Brown’s understated masterpiece, "Hope." "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most" (Landesman/Wolf), a song I have loved countless times, hit with unexpected emotional depth, particularly the line “My heart tries to sing so they won't hear it breaking.”

"Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright" by Bob Dylan is an eternal favorite of mine, and Betty’s interpretation, especially the stunning final stanza, left a fingerprint on my heart. I will not rest soundly until I have a recording of Betty singing it; it was truly that perfect. Her rendition of "Send In The Clowns" (Sondheim) was tender, poignant, and flawless, and Christian Jacob's opening piano made it all the more stunning.

For those who love theatre and great vocalists, Buckley’s singular voice is like returning to the arms of a great love. Regardless of how many others sing a song, when Betty Buckley performs it, it becomes hers. Her voice, unlike any other, is so expressive, serene, and full. She doesn’t just sing; she shares life experiences, offering a pure and honest connection that imbues songs with newfound meaning. With every song, she shares the deepest parts of herself.

She feels the music deeply, and that informs her words, creating a synergy that transcends mere interpretation. Not only is she a phenomenal vocalist, she’s a charming and witty presence on stage. Her banter was effortlessly humorous, making the experience even more delightful. A true legend.

The band was extraordinary, with each musician having their moment to shine. It was a stage of masters creating breathtaking moments together. Long-time collaborator and eight-time Grammy-nominated Christian Jacob was a whirlwind of talent. In addition to being the musical  director, he composed both the opening and interlude leading into “Send In the Clowns”, and his arrangements were nothing short of genius.

This was a show I didn’t want to take notes during because I was enraptured, intoxicated by her effortless perfection. Whether settling into smooth, rich tones or dancing through her range, her every word, every line, strikes precisely where she intends. Betty takes a journey in every song, and her ethereal magic carries us along right with her.

After a tremendous standing ovation, Betty concluded the evening with "And So It Goes" by Billy Joel. I don’t know that I have ever truly understood what a song means until I hear Betty sing it. She knows that a pause, a whisper, or a breath can transform, and she wields that knowledge like a superpower.

I’ll end with this…

     Dear Betty,
     Please sing every song ever written.
     With love and gratitude,

Betty Buckley at Joe's Pub was an experience of sublime perfection, a night of pure magic that will linger in my heart and memory forever.

To learn more about the incomparable Betty Buckley, click here. And don’t miss her animated short, The Mayfly, at The Tribeca Festival this June. For tickets visit their website.

Find more upcoming shows at Joe's Pub on their website.

Photo Credit: David Andrako.


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