Monday, December 1, 2008

On A High Note

I almost forgot to post this until I came across a photograph today.... Two weeks ago, my husband and I went to see Duncan Sheik in concert at Town Hall. We are both a big fans of his, so we were excited for the show. It's been quite some time since we've seen him live (although the front row center balcony seats didn't mute our excitement any.) Of course, nothing could prepare us for what was easily the weirdest concert we've ever been to.

We didn't think twice about the opening act Lauren Pritchard, formerly of Spring Awakening, apologizing for coming out prematurely early. However, it was pretty funny when she wanted to switch from piano to keyboard for a song, but couldn't get the microphone stand to reach. In the end she scrapped the keyboard idea, but all in all her set was very enjoyable and look forward to her album next year.

Finally Duncan came on, with full band, including a French horn, clarinet and cello (sorry the picture above didn't capture all of them.) He opened with "For You" from his 2002 album Daylight - so far so good. For the first third of the show, he sang songs from his albums. It was a great start and it's always fun to sing along with his songs. Then, as is typical, he switched gears and a bunch of songs from Spring Awakening. Again, these are great songs, and I am looking forward to finally seeing the show in January before it closes.

Everything seems to be going normally. At one point, the audience member were also complaining that two female singers (Lauren Pritchard again, and Holly Brooke also from SA) vocal levels were low. Duncan apologized and told the sound guy to boost the level. He then laughed when realized that the next song would not featured them. Oh well, live show are live, so a little goof like that is to be expected. What followed, though, could not have been.

After the SA mini-set, Duncan launch into a bunch of song from his upcoming project titled "Whisperhouse." Another soon to be produced stage production, this one has what sound to be a very unusual narrative. It involves a haunted lighthouse, an orphaned protagonist and ghost band. Interesting concept, but it all sounded a little goofy when Duncan was explaining it. And explain it he did! In between songs, he would try to discuss a setting of the song. However, it seems that, during his ramblings, even Duncan seemed to get how ludicrous much of narrative it sounded. Of course, this didn't affect my enjoyment of the show any - the new songs we almost uniformly great. It's just that, the way he tried to explain the songs,it was very funny. But not Joe Pesci "ha-ha" funny, but more like "hmm, how peculiar, how do I react to this" funny.

Duncan then realized that he had skipped a song and thus the narrative no longer made any sense (if it ever did). Duncan and the audience took it all in stride. But things really started to go off the rails during the encore. At one point, the lead guitarists' daughter ran out on the stage, during a song, and ask daddy to tie he shoelaces. the band keep playing, and the little girl was dancing around the stage, seemingly oblivious to the audience. It was adorably weird.

At the end of the song, the guitarist hugged his daughter and Duncan had to confess to being upstaged again by yet another woman! Then for the final encore, Duncan and the band came our, only the cellist and French horn player were missing. Apparently they were in the bathroom! What's more; they were needed to start the next song. So Duncan just sort of spoke to the audience while waiting for the band to fully assemble. Eventually they did and they did a terrific version of "On A High."

As I said, the show was very good, but the whole evening just seemed a little surreal. Its hard to explain, but a lot of things seems just a little "off" - not musically, mind you, just sort of...weird. Oh well, if anything I think it enhanced my enjoyment of the show. This was not some prefabricated music spectacle, but rather, a working musician playing a hometown show in front of friends and family, and having a great time doing it! He made Town Hall feels like a backyard bbq! I couldn't have asked for more!

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