a soft criticism

Ah sweet concert remorse, you have shown yourself again! The first time on May 19, 2007 when Ryan Adams headlined a special WFPK show at The Brown Theatre.  I was pumped…his Gold album was on heavy (and loud) rotation at my house (well, okay…car).  The theatre went dark – seriously, lights turned way down – and someone, who we all assumed was Ryan Adams, came out with a skull cap pulled down so low, it could have been your brother and you wouldn’t have known it.  He played a few songs and vanished. Gone. Lights on, game over.  I’ve heard a few explanations from a skateboarding induced injury to a later- diagnosed (serious) illness. Whatever.  Still love him and looking forward to his new release (due out in October).  But, I could do without that empty feeling of performance disappointment.  You walk in, excited and filled with anticipation for a great night ahead. And it is just a cruel reality when your expectations weren’t met – not even close.

Well, last night at Waterfront Wednesday, I should have done myself a favor and left at 8:30pm, just as Ha Ha Tonka was ending their AMAZING set (more to come on them!!).  When Sarah Jaffe walked onto the stage at 9pm the mood suddenly and drastically changed. The exact same thing happened in April at Headliners.  I had pushed her last performance in Louisville out of my head, because how could someone who has such an amazing voice, strong lyrics and a group of talented musicians backing her fail so miserably at live music?

Note-as a Mom, I have a hard time tearing someone apart unless they do something inexcusable – like take the last donut at the bakery when my kiddos were already salivating over their treat 😉 – and then watch out because Mama bear will come out!  These days, there are so many musician who don’t succeed at live music because their voices have to be re-re-mastered on the cd.  This was absolutely NOT the issue with Sarah.  It seems as though she just needs a little help with the show. The two times I have seen her live, she has slowed her songs down so much that it was hard to recognize  when they started. I am all for the nature of the live show and how songs can develop from that.  However, usually it goes the other way–artist add energy and enthusiasm to a set and songs start to take on a personality of their own.  There was little personality last night.  The audience quickly picked up on the collective energy suck during Sarah’s set and just as quickly started peeling out.

Will I continue to have Sarah’s Suburban Nature on heavy rotation?! No doubt! It is incredible and one of my favorite finds from the past year. Do I encourage you to find a copy? Of course!! You will love her voice and songs.  Will I see her live again? Umm….maybe if it is another free show, but then again maybe not.  All was not lost last night with my new infatuation with Ha Ha Tonka after they killed it! Over all, it was a  great Waterfront Wednesday and we are so lucky to have these concerts in our community! And who knows, maybe Sarah’s performance will grow and I will be happily surprised the next time I see her!

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Amanda Fisher
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 20:21:14

    I totally agree. Sarah Jaffe’s CD is awesome. I was ready to love her live set and it just didn’t happen. The songs were slow and almost unrecognizable. I’ll continue to love her CD, but she needs to work on her stage craft. Maybe she could get a lesson from Ha Ha Tonka. Those guys kicked butt!

    Reply

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