Vanessa Carlton Strikes A Chord
The Popular Singer Drew Huge Crowds For Her Acoustic Concert
Published: Sunday, November 6, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Girls, eager to relive a pre-teen music obsession, and even a few guys, excited to rekindle an old celebrity crush, attended Vanessa Carlton's sold out Nights on the Heights (NOTH) concert at Robsham Theater on Saturday Nov. 5.
The concert began with three songs by singer-song-writer Nikki Jean; she was the ideal artist to open for Carlton. On the piano, she played the title song off of her debut album, Pennies in a Jar; interestingly, it features Lupe Fiasco on the recorded version of the track. With the song "Million Star Motel," Jean ended her set. However, her voice – both tender and soulful – and her sweet, mellifluous melodies left the audience content and even eager to listen to her longer.
Instead, anxious listeners waited another half-hour for Carlton to take her seat behind the piano. When Carlton did take the stage, the audience erupted in applause. The first song she played, called "Carousel," was from her newly released album, Rabbits on the Run, which came out this past July. She was interrupted in the middle of the song, though, when her microphone made a horrible high frequency noise that not only frightened her, but also surprised the audience; nevertheless, she finished the song, picking up where she left off, like a genuine artist.
Carlton played 13 songs – eight of which were new – during her 75-minute set. Highlights off her new record, and of the concert, included the song "Fairweather Friend," in which Carlton was able to exhibit her flawless falsetto. The new song, "Get Good," was a performance worth noting, as Carlton refrained from playing the piano and simply sang to the strum of a guitar. With a suspenseful and almost ominous introduction on the violin, the song "Hear the Bells" was also memorable.
Though she played many new tracks from her record, Carlton was sure to perform the crowd pleasers too. Switching from the piano to the keyboard, she began to play an unrecognizable interlude that quickly transformed into the unmistakable introduction of "White Houses." Instantly, the crowd cheered and began to sing along as their nostalgia took them back to 2004, when the hit single was released.
As soon as Carlton began the illustrious rift of "A Thousand Miles," the crowd aired the same reaction, taking the decibel up a few notches. She played on, nevertheless, as if she understood and even expected the audience's response. Carlton and the rest of the theater, especially a row of boys who just could not contain their enthusiasm and admiration, finished the song together, prompting her to compliment everyone on their beautiful voices.
Between many of the songs, Carlton interacted with the audience, sharing digressions and anecdotes about each song that truly added to the intimate feel of the concert. Carlton's new material, inspired by her time in London, her friend's divorce, Sylvia Plath, and the California coast, among other things, was made even more engaging and charming by her personal narratives.
She also explained that though she has "been gone for a really long time, it's a pleasure to be back." Carlton told how she spent the last year and a half, hidden away in England, writing and recording Rabbits on the Run. The album is extremely authentic, she said, because she worked tirelessly on the lyrics and because she produced it without a label, funding it by the revenue she made from "A Thousand Miles."
The entire set was extremely stripped down; it featured Carlton, on the baby grand piano and keyboard, and her two fellow musicians, one on the guitar and one on the violin. The trio truly complemented each other, both instrumentally and vocally. The clear and rich sound of the violin balanced the soft sound of Carlton's piano fittingly, and her delicate, airy voice worked well with tempered male harmonies. The acoustic set enabled Carlton to convey tangible emotion to the audience in every song.
After the concert, Carlton greeted fans and autographed tickets in the lobby of the theater. With a smile on her face, she even took a moment to explain to The Heights what it was like to play for the students of Boston College: "It was a privilege to be here, and I felt like I instantly connected with a bunch of strangers that kind of instantly became phantom friends, in a way, in the darkness. I thought it was wonderful, and again, I am just lucky to play for people like this." n