With a throaty alto that sounded like Edith Piaf without the vibrato, Polish pop star Basia controlled the crowd at Constitution Hall Saturday night. She was backed by a nine-piece band that performed her disco-for-the-'90s with taste and precision.
The problem is that the mix of Brazilian samba, European pop, salsa and swing sounds more like an aerobics tape than something you need to see live. It was Basia's endearing Polish-British accent and her easy aw-shucks grin that put the audience in the palm of her hand. The band was carried by the drummer, the percussionist and the two female backup singers, whose tight harmonies brightened up the otherwise bland "Ordinary People." The two-man horn section was versatile but frequently out of tune, while Basia's songwriting partner Danny White buried the bass and guitar with his muddy keyboard playing.
With two costume changes and lots of talk, Basia tried to keep things interesting, but it just didn't work. Neither did the single dry-ice cloud that floated by in mid-set. It was pleasant, harmless and dull, but that didn't stop the crowd from shouting declarations of love throughout the show.