Sunday, February 15, 2009

Live Music Matters...

I know that live music matters. The audeince/performer relationship creates something entirely unique and visceral, which cannot be captured in recordings. And yet going to concerts has never been a part of my life. I've some theories:

1) For all the movies and theatre my parents took us to as early as age three, concerts never made it on the roster. There's a basic lack of enculturation there.

2) Most of the music I listen to is by dead people or groups that disbanded thirty years ago. So, in fact, one of the few concerts I've seen in the past five years was The Tudor Choir performing 16th choral music...

3) In non-professional settings, the agony of watching insecure/bad musicians is too much for me. I feel such a responsibility to pay attention and make them feel they're doing well, that I'm too stressed out to enjoy the good people once they get onstage.

But when our new roommate moved in last month, having just returned from living in Ireland off and on the past few years, and told us that an Irish singer she LOVED would be playing The Triple Door the day after Valentines, I took the plunge. I'm glad I did.

A) Everyone and their mother is always going to The Triple Door to see someone or other, so I figured it must be a pretty decent venue. I was not prepared for it be an "experience." The atmosphere is somewhere between 1920's music club and a private concert hall. The walls glow with gilded framing and the stage cyc is covered in starlight. It's gorgeous.

B) Lisa Hannigan has phenomenal stage presence. She rocks to and fro, gesturing like a Balinese shadow puppet, but somehow doesn't look wierd. While vocally, she's a bit more Meow-Lar** than I prefer, the band's musicality, lyrics and all around performance were stellar- as in pertaining stars and galaxies.

C) The thing I forget about live music is that you get to hear things the performers would never put on an album. In this case, my ticket price alone was worth their encore cover of Iron & Wine's "Free Until They Cut Me Down." It started basically like Sam Beam's version, with breathy whispers and muted harmonies. Then suddenly, on the second and third instrumental breaks, the stage, which for the whole night had remained in the realm of dulcet, dangling doo-wahs, erupted like a fire-breathing Rock Dragon. Seriously, something dark and adrenalized flared up in the musicians, and the entire room was changed. It was freaking ridiculously awesome.

A good reminder of why live music matters.

**For more on the Lar-Lars, Burr-Burrs, Meow-Lars and Bur-Lars, see me in person**

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