Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sara Bareilles at Irving Plaza

Sara Bareilles was born and raised in Eureka, California. She participated in the high school choir and local community theater musical productions, including her high school's production of Little Shop of Horrors. After graduating from high school in 1998, Bareilles attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was a member of an cappella group, Awaken a Cappella. The group's rendition of Bareilles' "Gravity" was featured on the Best of College a Cappella 2004 compilation CD. Bareilles performed in the annual student concert UCLA Spring Sing, winning twice. After graduating from UCLA in 2002, Bareilles performed at local bars and clubs, building a following before performing in larger venues. Bareilles achieved mainstream success in 2007 with "Love Song." Bareilles has sold over one million records and over four million singles in the United States alone and has been nominated for a Grammy Award five times, including two current nominations. Bareilles was a celebrity judge in the third season of NBC's The Sing-Off, and has appeared as actress or singer in numerous films and television programs. She has also performed for the First Family at the White House and other events several times. In 2012, she released A Trace of Sun, a documentary of her time volunteering in Japan after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. Her Grammy-nominated fourth album, The Blessed Unrest, was released in July 2013, followed by a live CD/DVD, Brave Enough: Live at the Variety Playhouse, which was released in October. Presently, Bareilles is working on writing music for Waitress, a musical adaptation of the 2007 film, and writing a book for publication in 2014.

Canon promoted its Power Shot line of cameras tonight by sponsoring an unadvertised, free-admission, invitation-only concert by Bareilles at Irving Plaza. Bareilles performed a full set with her band, highlighting her best known songs but also introducing lesser known songs. She spent most of the show singing while standing by her keyboard at stage left, although she occasionally came out to center stage to sing, dance or play the guitar. Overall, the performance jumped back and forth so often between singer-songwriter-troubadour and pop singer that it obliterated the lines of distinction. This was because at this stage of her career, she is no longer the sensitive coffeehouse singer that launched her career, yet she has not totally compromised her music to commercial radio interests. She demonstrated that there are many valid reasons why the combination of her singing and piano skills continues to be compared to Regina Spektor, Fiona Apple and even Billy Joel in different ways. Her singing borrows a bit from jazz and soul in a very feminine manner. Her honest lyrics similarly espouse vulnerability and wisdom while exploring feelings gained from relationships, all from a woman's perspective. She also connected with the women in the audience through her chattiness between songs. Even her attire was kind of girlie. Bareilles’ set was well executed, but as part of the male minority at the concert tonight, the performance impressed but failed to excite me.

Visit Sarah Bareilles at www.sarabmusic.com.