I went to hear Sara Bareilles in concert in Portland, Oregon. Lucky me!
When I bought the tickets, I decided to get four, because my daughters love to sing along to her CDs and the show said "All Ages" (they are 11 and 8), so that sounded like something they would love! We thought the fourth ticket could be for their Auntie Sarah (my sister-in-law), so we could make it a Girls' Night. We were all SO very excited!
What I didn't think through was the start time. 8 pm. With two opening acts.* That means that my 8-year-old daughter was having trouble keeping her eyes open before Sara even came out at 9:45 pm. That was my fault. I really should have thought that through. What wasn't my fault was the language. Apparently, Sara thinks it's titillating to use the F word. I myself don't think it's all that exciting. It's not rebellious, it's not edgy, it's cliche. I'm fine with hearing it, I'm just not impressed by it. Regardless, when the ticket clearly states "All Ages," there may be kids in the audience who don't enjoy hearing it. That's right, they don't think it's 'super cool' to hear it, it makes them uncomfortable. And that's all them, that's not my influence. So using it in every between-song-patter, and having the whole theater emphasize it while singing a song together, and talking about people having sex in the back row... these moments were not fun for the girls. They liked the music, but they had to try and wash those other moments from their minds. As a ticket buyer, I interpret "All Ages" to mean "All Ages."
* What is the deal with opening acts these days? The headliner seems to come on later these days than I remember. Two to three hours past the time on the ticket! That seems ludicrous to me! And I have seen some BORING opening acts lately. Can I start coming to the show two hours late? Does anybody do that, because I'd like to know if it's a viable option. As a musician myself, I don't want to show the opener such disrespect, but come on, waiting two hours through music I don't like is just too much. 45 minutes seems right to me.
My main reaction to the concert itself? Loud. PAINFULLY loud. Fingers-in-my-ears loud. I-can't-hear-any-actual-notes-I-can-only-hear-distortion-loud. Weird, because Sara is a musician. Not a 'rock star,' a beautiful musician. I'd like to be able to hear the music she is making, along with her talented band mates.
And now we're at the part where I gush.
She is so funny, and so beautiful, and WOW does she have an impressive vocal command, and HOO BOY the girls and I loved that she plays instruments (mainly a grand piano) as well. (We did already know that, but still it's such fun to watch live!)
I loved her audience rapport and stage presence. She had COMMAND of that big, historic concert hall! She played to every corner!
There were a few moments that were particularly memorable. I loved the different arrangements she did on some of the songs. I loved the creative uses of the band members (they are all so versatile!), for example, starting one song with all of them on various pianos/keyboards while she banged the bass drum and sang.
At one point, she and the band appeared in the first balcony (we were sitting near the front of the orchestra - Row M - so we could turn around and see them) and sang a capella with no microphones. The theater was so quiet, listening to their rendition of "Little Lion Man" by Mumford and Sons (I love that song) (also, though, this was one that has the prominent and repeated use of the F-word). Then we all started to sing along, although we could still hear Sara's killer voice through it all, and the sound was beautiful. (I also enjoyed the break from all the LOUD!)
There was the audience participation - teaching different parts of the audience how to sing the "ooo ooo" parts for "King of Anything" as well as provide the hand clap percussion section.
Not to mention the part when Sara commented that she loved it when the audience sang and then joked "you all can just sing and I'll just listen... actually you can play the piano for me too!" and a guy in the audience yelled, "I'll play the piano for you!" and then she invited him up to play. He was great. He played "Love Song" (even though she pointed out that song was coming later in the show; she said, "let's just do it twice!") and she sang. Then she pulled a few people up on stage to sing. When they all left, she said, "that was amazing. I've never done that before. That was something we'll all remember, so thank you."
I've since read that this has become extremely common - this letting someone from the audience come up and play/sing. I read a piece on NPR that said that celebrities basically can't say no, because they will incur the wrath of the internet if they do. I will point out that later in the show, someone else yelled out "can I come sing with you too?" and Sara said "I'm sorry, no, don't hate me" in her adorable way, and the person yelled, "that's okay, I love you!"
All in all, I'm very glad I went! I've now seen my two favorite female singer/songwriters this year (saw KT Tunstall in May - awesome)! The girls were so very tired, that we left when the encores began, but they were feeling happy. I hope that when they look back on this, the memories they have are of that young female musician, perfectly comfortable on that stage up in front of that crowd.