By Chuck Cox

Special Contributor

Sarah Jaffe

Sarah Jaffe performs during her New Year’s Eve show at the Kessler. (Photo: Chuck Cox)

Thanks to the NHL, my annual tradition of going to the Dallas Stars game on New Year’s Eve with my wife and two of our friends did not happen this year.

With no hockey game to attend, I naturally looked for a concert to go to on the final night of 2012. There were several solid options, but I couldn’t pass up seeing Sarah Jaffe, fresh off an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” headlining a show at the Kessler.

In addition to being my favorite venue in Dallas because of its intimate setting and killer acoustics, the Kessler is also super close to my house. Bonus. The venue also has its new retro neon marquee up out front, and it looks great.

As always, Jaffe was amazing. She made her way through a fairly short 75-minute set with some of her live staples, like “Clementine,” along with some surprises. She did a duet with guitarist Robert Gomez, and another one with Midlake’s Eric Pulido on “One Man Guy.” Jaffe, who I have seen five or six times now, closed the show with a new song with her two opening acts, Zhora and rappers A.Dd+.

Another cool surprise was Jaffe’s cover of “Head Over Heels,” a 1980s favorite from Tears For Fears. She did the first verse twice, and her voice was spectacular with only piano accompaniment. You really need to see Jaffe, if you haven’t already done so. She truly has a spectacular voice and is a gifted songwriter.

Having said all of that, A.Dd+ just about stole the show with an energetic, really fun set. Watching this Dallas up-and-coming duo was an experience in which is was difficult to not smile. It was obvious they were having a ball, and the crowd absolutely fed off that energy.

Zhora was also fantastic. Like Jaffe, Zhora’s Taylor Rea also has a big voice that soars over searing beats. This was the second time I had seen Zhora, which is also made up of Rob Bastien, open for Jaffe. It’s not difficult to see why Jaffe had the band back. Rea also threw down a mellow cover of a 1980s song, putting her own twist on the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” beautifully.

As far as all-local bills, this show was pretty tough to top. It was a great way to wrap up a great year of live music and to start a new year of live music, at the same time.

Photo album.