Why Concerts Are Still Worthwhile

My favorite Rush song is Bravado.
But it wasn’t when I first heard it. Sometimes you return to a song years later and it gives you a completely different feeling. But in this case I knew exactly what made me love it after dismissing it so many years ago: the live version, specifically the Rush in Rio DVD.
Perhaps the crowd played a part in it, but there’s quite a difference in musicality. Geddy sings with much more emotion. Alex’s solo seems sparse, more honest, beautiful individual licks that build into a gorgeous resolve. And his outro is Mark Kopfler-esque in its heartbreaking passion.
Taken altogether, the studio version feels sterile and emotionless in comparison, which is a bit hilarious when I realize how much I love the Gregorian chant version.
In a completely different example, Take Flight is my favorite Lindsey Stirling song, just for the music alone but also because it’s easily the most visually exciting track on the Live in London DVD. Even the music video is superb. When I saw the new live version of this song on YouTube, it didn’t look quite as stunning, but it made a difference because I knew I’d be seeing it live in a few months. And indeed, when the show finally got to the Greek Theater and I was in the second row, it was so much more inspirational, special, whatever adjective you’d like to choose.
I will admit I went quite a few years in my late twenties and early thirties without seeing many live shows, until Raining Jane caught my attention about fifteen years ago. From then I’ve been to hundreds of shows in Los Angeles, in places like Hotel Café, Molly Malone’s, Coffee Gallery, and quite a few that no longer exist. Other than an occasional headache when the mix was too loud, I’ve never regretted it. And can you think of a better way to meet your favorite musicians, especially without it seeming stalkerish? Just about every CD I’ve bought in the past 10 years is autographed, and some of those favorite musicians are now friends I have lunch with all the time. Heck, their kids know me!
So this is for all the musicians who think it’s no longer worthwhile to play out, but also to the fans, who should demand their favorite artists show up!

;o)

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Lindsey Stirling Evanescence Concert, part 3

Time for the main event, though if you tell Amy I said that I’ll make up stuff about your teenage years.

The Arena
Lindsey’s biggest hit—at least video-count wise—from Brave Enough opens the show with a montage of her career, ups and downs, all the way to Dancing With the Stars. I’m happy the previous videos and special effects are gone, having never liked or understood them. More importantly, the first song is always where I settle in and let the experience wash over me, to the point where I sometimes forget to breathe. I still have a problem with her playing the secondary line in the chorus, though; as before, you can barely hear the main melody on the backing track.

Moon Trance
I think this is the third version of this famous song to be on tour, featuring new headstones—except for Piers Morgan, of course—and less elaborate zombiefying. (Did I just invent that word?) Had it not been for the visuals, and maybe the almost-creepy pizzicato, this might be mistaken for a joyful song.

Shadows
Lindsey is honored to be in our presence; she said so. She does a lot of the same moves as before, though without her shadow backup dancers. Instead there’s artsy-beautiful fluid shots on the giant screens, lovely but not as much fun as the previous iteration.

She’s looking at me. . . sideways. A little creepy. . .

Shatter Me
As I’d predicted before the first show, it was indeed Amy Lee doing the vocals live. As much as I love her, it takes some getting used to after hearing Lzzy Hale’s harder-edged throaty roar so many times.

Basically these are here just to prove I did indeed have second-row seats, you blasphemous unbelievers!

Lost Girls
As expected, the sequel follows. This is a perfect example of how the whole show felt a little bit. . . less than the Brave Enough tour. This is not a knock, as I’ll gladly watch Lindsey live anytime, but the feel is just different, more stripped down than the previous versions.

Take Flight
I finally get to see my favorite song live! I still like the DVD version better, but this was more enjoyable than the second interpretation. Seeing Lindsey so high up in the air, like an angel topping a Christmas tree, makes me think of a long ago video when she was introducing her first dancers: Steve-o lifts her up above his head and she lets out a hilarious yelp. This was much higher, but I guess she got used to it.

Crystallize
The only song she never misses, now without limbo backbend.

Roundtable Rival
Crowd fave, of course. Everybody clap your hands!

Hold My Heart
Should have expected ZZ Ward to show up, but I didn’t; this was more surprising than when she did it on the Brave Enough tour. Lindsey only did one magic trick this time, and the colorful costumes were missing, but it’s always fun to watch her pop up from under the curtain, and then hear her after, talking about how she’s a witch rather than a magician.

First Light
After some nerd-credential talk, she asks everyone for their lights, fitting with this song. Rather than use the flashlight on my phone, I put on my lighter app—it even waves in the breeze—but I doubt it could be seen from the stage.
An unsung hero of a song, the new live one from Brave Enough that got its video release during this tour. I always forget to list this when asked for my faves, but it’s definitely up there. Only got a snippet of a vid before she ran away. . .

Mirage
No elaborate Indian costumes, no levitating chair. Same background vids. Just pure fun, although I did notice it was cut short, and there was no telltale “squeal” that is my favorite note of the entire song.

Don’t Let This Feeling Fade
Still my least favorite song, and done in its entirety this time, unlike the Brave Enough tour when it was paired with Roundtable. I’d be okay with an instrumental version of this. . .

Beyond the Veil
A little weird to hear this song as the encore rather than the opener, but it does kick things back up after the usual “let’s pretend it’s over, then come back” routine. It’s certainly one of the most dramatic-sounding songs in her arsenal, and is a perfect lead-in for the only cover of the night.

Phantom of the Opera Medley
Nice to see her bring back this one from her early days. She adds too many flourishes for it to be a singalong, but considering the voices around me that’s probably a good thing.

So there it is. This was not as majestic as the Brave Enough show, but then it was never going to be, due to a shorter running time to accommodate the other two acts. There also wasn’t enough time to put on the more elaborate stagecraft, so no complaints here. Evanescence made it a musical extravaganza rather than just a Lindsey Stirling night, and that’s definitely not a bad thing.
Took me three hours to get home, mostly due to having to wait for the observatory bus, but that’s another story. . .

;o)

Lindsey Stirling Evanescence Concert, part 2

When last we tuned into this soap opera, I’d just left the Meet ‘n’ Greet tent to get into the actual Greek Theater through the VIP entrance. (By now the VIP “oooooh!” of it had vanished.) Had fun with the people at security, as I can always tell what kind of company it is by how loose the employees are. I thought they were going to run the magic. . . er, magnetic wand over me a few more times just to keep the fun going, which wouldn’t have been a bad idea, but instead I went in and climbed to the top of the seats, where I got this view:

But after that it was more waiting around. I don’t know at what time was the Meet ‘n’ Greet at other venues, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was earlier here so that Lindsey could spend time with her El Lay peeps. I didn’t know till the next day that iJustine and Superwoman were there, which would have gone a long way in my quest to take photos with all the princesses from Cassie’s Disney video. (Got Cassie’s a month ago, and obviously Lindsey. Where you at, Ro?) Also in attendance was Whitney Avalon, whom I regret missing even more, speaking of princesses and their rap battles.
Having seen the set schedule from a cheerful security guard, I knew how much time I had to kill before heading to my seat. The burrito was still doing its job of holding hunger at bay, but I was thirsty, so I got a $5 bottle of Sprite. . . the worst decision I’ve ever made, but more on that later. In addition to security guards and actual police, I spent a while chatting with the Mercedes-Benz guy, who once he learned I didn’t drive took off his salesman persona. As always I find it interesting what people visiting El Lay want to see while they’re in town; his choice was Malibu and Universal Studios. We talked about several other cities we’d both been to, but that didn’t waste nearly as much time as I’d hoped.
Eventually I could stall no longer and made it to my seat, but not before showing my ticket to prove I belonged in that section; apparently the VIP laminate on my chest wasn’t enough. The good news was obviously the view from the second row, but the bad news was that these weren’t permanent comfortable seats, but rather basically folding chairs. Hello, here I come, backache! To my amusement I found myself seated next to the boisterous guys from Utah whom I’d shared a table with at the Meet ‘n’ Greet, but any hilarity that might have ensued quickly vanished when I took that ($5) bottle of Sprite out of my backpack and twisted the cap. . .
Yep, you guessed it: the soda exploded. The sugary liquid did not get into my hair, but most of my arms, the bag, and especially my left boot got drenched. By the end I might have gotten $2 worth of that damned stuff. And it took a solid hour for janitorial staff to come over and help with the sticky floor, by which time it had all dried, of course.
Luckily the opening act, Cellogram, made me forget all that, at least for a while. My initial thought was that these musicians were a variation of The Piano Guys, but this cellist is even more crazy! (In a good way, of course.) And it was a wild man banging on the cajon rather than a sophisticated-looking individual behind a piano.

I hate spotlights.
I can’t remember a duo ever having this much energy, and fun. The highlight had to be the finale, part of which featured Zeppelin’s Kashmir, where they were joined by a lady I quickly figured out was the Evanescence guitarist. She was a bit of a ham but always willing to play along with the shenanigans, especially lying on her back along with Dave Eggar—the cellist—for some final jamming. Those of you who saw my blog about my favorite guitarists—yeah right, check that out in the archives—might remember I had a bunch of female shredders on the list, and just like that here’s another one.
So, what to do in between acts, other than cleaning up my seat, my arms, and my shorts? Wander around to see if I could spot anyone I knew. And did I ever! Hey, Phelba in the house! Luckily she’s a lot calmer and nicer when Lindsey’s not around.

Didn’t take long for Evanescence to come out, and I can’t describe much here because I was in the moment. I remember my faves—Bring Me To Life, My Heart Is Broken, My Immortal—but otherwise I just let Amy’s voice wash over me. Of course I couldn’t let the moment of Lindsey joining in for Hi-Lo pass by, though I was expecting her from the other side, so she managed to surprise me anyway.

Those of you who know me would not be surprised to find I instantly fell in love with Jen the guitarist. I found myself looking at her rather than Amy a lot of the time—hey, I already know how beautiful Amy is—and was really surprised to find her with her hands in the air, almost like she was conducting, but I knew better. Was she actually playing a Theremin? I couldn’t really hear it, but what else could she be doing? (Since then I’ve seen a video where she shows off her Theremin-playing skills, so yeah, although I’d never seen such a modern-looking instrument.)
So this was the best I could do as far as Amy is concerned. In case you didn’t see it the first time, I REALLY hate spotlights!

Eventually it was time for the encore, and I had the phone at the ready, because I knew that in the past Lindsey had joined in here. Not this time; instead Dave Eggar came down from the orchestra with his highly maneuverable cello to play the lead string part. Since I’d enjoyed his set, I did not stop recording.

So even though I came for Lindsey, and Evanescence was more of the cream icing on the cream cake, I still felt wrung out after that set. Hopefully the break in between would be bigger this time. Ended up talking to the guy at the VIP entrance, who remembered me because of the shirt I had on. . . remember that from the photo in the previous blog? As I said, you get a good feeling for a venue by the way the employees act with you; felt like we were long-time buds, and he didn’t laugh at my exploding soda too much.
Okay, finally we get to what you’ve all been waiting for. . . or rather, it’ll be on the next installment. I’m not really that cruel, but then Lindsey’s concert figures to have the most to write about, so it makes sense. . . really, I’m not cackling and evilly twiddling fingers or anything like that. . . swear!

;o)

Lindsey Stirling Evanescence Concert, part 1

As I’m on the bus heading for downtown Los Angeles, I realize how different I feel this time as opposed to my first Lindsey Stirling concert, when I was basically a nervous wreck knowing I was going to meet her, even though I’d only known about her for approximately six months. Now, a full two years after that, my fifth time seeing her live, and having spoken to her in a more casual setting a few months ago, I figured things would be far different. . . or at least I hoped. I wasn’t sure at all.
First stop: Juanita’s of Olvera Street for a giant bean and cheese burrito, fueling up for a long day and night. Also, I knew I wouldn’t get hungry till late, and I was right; I didn’t eat again till I got home at two in the morning. . . and that was cereal. The owner’s son is a Lindsey fan, but he wasn’t there, so I couldn’t boast about my second row seats (not that I would have). From there it was a quick stop at Kitty’s for the usual post-burrito vanilla soft serve before heading back to Union Station and the subway ride to East Hollywood.
Second stop: Vermont/Sunset, waiting for the DASH observatory bus to take me to the venue, along with a bunch of people who worked there at the Greek Theater, tonight’s venue. Amazing they had to be there a good five hours before the show! Other people were going to that beautiful lump of white up on the horizon. . .


Thanks to concise instructions in the email, I knew exactly where to go for the VIP Meet ‘n’ Greet tent. Had to take a photo, because the background of brown hills and shady trees made the setting look like anything but Los Angeles.

After a wait, then a security search, we were allowed into the tent, where people lined up for free food and drink—which was mostly bags of popcorn and lemonade, so typical Lindsey—and getting their faces painted. (I saw a video where the Evanescence Meet ‘n’ Greet featured champagne, so I definitely made the right choice, despite not getting to meet Jen the guitarist.) Having been through such events before, I grabbed a seat at a table near the stage first, which might have been the best move I made all day. Besides, I’d just eaten a giant bean and cheese burrito, so it’s not like I was hungry. On the other hand, free popcorn. . .
At a couple of tables there were giant versions of Connect 4 and Jenga, which nobody was playing, probably a good thing, as I dropped a circle in the Connect 4 later and it was LOUD! Instead there was really small talk as we waited to get in line to get our photos take with the diva of the hour. When that finally occurred, we were herded back outside for a small security speech: no lifting, no heavy squeezing, don’t even take your cell phones out. That was disappointing, as I’d wanted to do a Dancing With the Stars pose with her, but couldn’t show the photo to her. It probably wouldn’t have mattered, though, as there was no cell service in this canyon of Griffith Park! WHAT?
I jumped out of line to say Hi to Kit and show him some photos I’d taken of him at his show a few months before—more on that later. Also there was Andy, who’s the lighting guy on tour. Managed to talk to him about some lighting stuff I’d seen at a few Rush concerts, which was fun for a while until I could see he was getting bored. Yeah, I frequently overstay my welcome, but then we guys don’t understand hints, right, ladies?
So remember how at the start I said this time was going to be different? It wasn’t. I don’t remember what I said to Lindsey; I don’t even remember if there was a hug. If they hadn’t sent me a link to the photo I probably would have forgotten that happened too. It was different in that it was much shorter, as in hello photo next. Part of it was due to her having signed the posters beforehand, but there was no time for conversation here, which would have been a bummer had I been able to remember what I’d hypothetically said.


Like my shirt?
Then it was back into the tent for a wheel of fortune-type game and a two-song concert; I can’t even remember which order they took place in. A couple of people won selfies, but mostly it was ask Lindsey questions. Since I was seated so close to the stage I tried to get a photo of Lindsey, but I’m a professional photographer, not a cellphone one. Oddly enough, I got a decent shot of Kit, whom at this pace I’ll be shooting a lot more times than Lindsey. (See previous blog of Moonlit Kit concert photos.)

Lindsey, Kit, and Andy the Lighting Guy on cajon played “Something Wild” and the mashup of “Roundtable Rival/Don’t Let This Feeling Fade.” I very much want a full instrumental version of the latter song, which I am simply putting here on the one in a billion chance Lindsey reads this.

Once that was done and Lindsey paid off the selfies, the party broke up and we were invited to stick around or go into the venue. I did a little of both, talking to a few people, especially the guy I was supposed to go to the Holocaust museum with last week, but who was so late I had to leave for another appointment. He had a huge brag book of his photos, and luckily he grew a bigger audience, allowing me to slip away.
In the tent were some posters from Lindsey’s past shows, including an image I love: Steve-o carrying her around on his shoulder during Master of Tides. Since he’s playing a pirate here, and she’s on his shoulder. . . doesn’t that make her the parrot?

After a while I got bored and went into the venue, where I would be bored even more, but that’s for next time. . .

;o)