After I heard that he was a big fan, I asked guest reviewer and concert photographer, Mike Kurman to cover the Sara Bareilles concert for We Love DC.
On a cold, rainy Sunday night in Baltimore, Sara Bareilles grabbed hold of the diverse, multi-aged crowd and didn’t let go for her hour and forty minute set. Rarely have I seen a performer with such confidence as Bareilles. Supporting the excellent ‘Kaleidoscope Heart’ LP, Bareilles came out with a backing four piece band that was equally energetic and extremely tight. There was no warming up or easing into the set. Barielles came out banging on the keys of a royal blue baby grand while swaying, swerving, and singing. Her voice didn’t crack once throughout the evening, not one note was sour or even close to off key, as it echoed off the industrial brick walls of Rams Head Live! as if it was a temple. The performance was downright flawless.
As confident as Bareilles came off, I never felt like I was in the presence of a holier-than-thou diva. Frequently throughout the night, Bareilles engaged fans who screamed out requests, introduced songs with stories, and obliged when fans screams out for her to “chug.” She was an excellent hostess; I always felt like Bareilles was in complete control and we were along for her ride. The banter never felt forced. Our gracious hostess also had a really dirty mouth, dropping quite a few f-bombs.
Besides the music, everything about the evening felt first class. The stage set was made of a 50’ backdrop that looked like sandstone, four fifteen foot truss towers each containing 8 theatrical lights and an intelligent light fixture at the top. Plenty of LED lights were used to wash the band in warm colors and to bring out the texture of the backdrop.
She played the older requisite hits “Bottle It Up”, “Love Song”, and “Gravity” but impressed me to a different degree with the much more layered and realized songs from ‘Kaleidoscope Heart’, “Gonna Get Over You”, “The Light”, and “Uncharted”. She led the crowd in singing the oh, oh, oh part of “King Of Anything” in a chills-inducing round. It was impossible not to smile and feel uplifted. You could just tell that they were having a great time. “Hold My Heart” featured Bareilles hitting and sustaining notes that made audience members around me cry. The new material doesn’t feel like a cheap sequel. I’m anxious and excited to see how her songwriting grows even more as her career unfolds. Towards the end of main set, the band crowded around Bareilles to cover the Mumford & Sons song “Little Lion Man.” During ts introduction, she mentioned that she always “fucked this song up” but I didn’t notice one error. It was one of my personal highlights from the show.
Throughout the evening, I felt like I was witnessing something special. The performance felt genuine from the get go all the way to the last note of the last song (a cover of Coldplay’s “Yellow” performed solo). It’s rare when I walk out of a gig with the feeling of overwhelming joy that I felt walking out of Sara Bareilles’ concert. Most pop music in 2011 doesn’t try nearly as hard to be as polished and meaningful as the songs that Sara Bareilles writes and performs.