Friday, March 8, 2013

Prince, sans Prince

Carnegie Hall, sans Carnegie Hall. But 100% Karen. And 100% Bettye Lavette. And 100% The Roots (as the back up band. I mean, when are the ROOTS the back up band? I'll tell you when. At a Prince tribute show at Carnegie Hall. And they were wonderful. Truly, they are spectacular musicians. But what was totally weird, and the one thing that everyone was talking about after the show, was that the sound sucked. No, it really sucked. You couldn't hear the voices of famous singers. And when you could (they played solo) it was shrill and tinny. At Carnegie Hall. Having just produced a concert at Symphony Space, I believe I understand what happened. My guess is that it wasn't Carnegie Hall's issue. It was Michael Dorf, the producer, who rented the space, and brought in the sound company. So when people were saying, "It's Carnegie Hall! They can afford better sound!" I was thinking, "Yes, they can. But it's not on them." Just my guess. But wait, this is a blog about joy. And there was some. Seeing Karen walk into the restaurant before the show, beautiful and flecked with wet snow drops. Talking with her and going to the deep place quickly. Walking in together to Carnegie Hall, to our seats, sitting down, the camaraderie of us in the audience, in anticipation, the beauty and gift of the hall itself, visiting Osvaldo Golijov's score (that I love to see) on the way to the bathroom, the lady in front of us with her giant hat—yes, even though it blocked my view a little, I loved her for wearing it, because she was dressing up for Prince. All of these things brought joy, before the show even started. And then the show itself. Well, it was erratic. If I'm honest, only two or three things actually brought joy, but nothing compared. Nothing compared to Bettye Lavette singing my favorite all-time Prince song: Kiss. And it wasn't just that it was my favorite all-time Prince song; it was that Bettye SANG it. She PERFORMED it. She WORKED it. She did what you're supposed to do in a show like this, and got away from the "I'm so cool that I am going to do this understated" mindset that plagued many of the performers (but did not plague Sandra Bernhard, who knocked Little Red Corvette out of the park) and she gave us all what we came for. Bettye. Thank you.

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