Music - Sara Bareilles Amidst the Chaos Tour

A month ago, I dragged a friend up to Chicago to see Sara Bareilles perform at the United Center, a stop on her Amidst the Chaos tour. In reality, my friend did the heavy lifting as she drove us there and back after the concert (2.5 hours each way!) - so thank you, Jill, for putting up with my fan girl obsession with my favorite singer-songwriter.

I've seen Sara perform three times before last night, with the last concert in 2011, after her Kaleidoscope Heart album. Back then Sara played more to the local college scene, allowing me to take advantage of those close venues. I missed out on the Blessed Unrest "Little Black Dress" tour because she performed in Chicago and I didn't want to invest the energy of driving there and back. I now realize that live music is a gift we don't experience enough, so I bought tickets for this tour. Of course Sara didn't disappoint - her voice still rich, beautiful and polished even when challenged by the complexity of her songs. I still connect with her music and lyrics which contrast today's simplistic, manufactured pop music.

The stage's centerpiece focuses on the piano with conical chandelier of hanging pages, said to be lyrics and journal entries, a visual representation of music emanating from the recesses of the instrument.
Don’t Stop Trying to find me amidst the chaos, though I know it’s blinding there’s a way out, say out loud We will not give up on love now. #amidstthechaostour

Orpheus (Prologue) - Sara starts with the chorus of this song, which features namesake of the album and tour with these lyrics - "Don’t stop trying to find me here amidst the Chaos, though I know it's blinding there's a way out". The stage, bathed in white light, glistens like a beacon of hope. The stage colors, spotlights and back lights continued to transition throughout the performance, creating a beautiful effect.

She then launches into songs from the current album:
Fire - about feeling the heat of a relationship
Poetry by Dead Men - leaving a relationship
Eyes on You - profiles of everyday people and their troubles and keeping those people close to you in this crazy world

The next song is from her Blessed Unrest album, I Choose You, what I consider to be her most "optimistic" relationship song. It's a piece one might play at a wedding - sweet and loving. It's not my favorite because Sara usually sings about heartbreak, personal discovery and moving on.

She segues into the next song with her backup singers vocalizing jazzy chords a cappella, fingers snapping, syncopated percussion and I'm left wondering what song it's going to be. Until those familiar chords start on the piano - the distinctive start to Love Song. This is what Sara does best - reinventing her songs.

Sara returns to the new record with percussive Armor, an anthem calling for women to support one another. She then brings opening act Emily King to sing a duet - If I Can't Have You. Emily King collaborated with Sara in writing this song.
The mood slows down (and we get to sit down) with the romantic Miss Simone

The set then detours away from pop music to Broadway with a trio of songs from Sara's successful musical, Waitress.

Soft Place to Land - an ethereal trio
Sara Bareilles
Above Photo credit - Shannon Guest
You Matter to Me - duet with her bassist

Bad Idea - duet with her guitarist

She then goes solo with the piano on what I thought was the best song of the night, She Used to Be Mine. This is what I enjoy the most - the stripped down singer with piano. Sara continues with only the piano and Uncharted, which included a brief audience sing along (yes, I sang along since that’s my thing).
Sara Bareilles
Above Photo credit - Shannon Guest

The band re-emerges for a mash up of No Such Thing / Satellite Call. A common trend for concerts is to perform a song where people use the flashlights on their phones akin to Bic lighters to fill the stadium with light like stars in the sky. It's more effective in a larger or outdoor venue where the atmosphere doesn't reflect the light back. I love the sentiment but seeing the insides of the United center all lit up didn’t give that stars in the night sky effect. When I saw Ed Sheeran in concert outside, this effect was totally amazing.

I know the concert is heading into the last stretch with Let the Rain, King of Anything and Brave.

To end the main set, the band circled back to Orpheus - but Sara performed the full version of the song, creating a sense of completion.

We were treated to two encores - Gravity and Saint Honesty. Sara always sings Gravity for her encores and while I love this song, I found the arrangement too heavy on the low strings for my liking. But Saint Honesty makes up for it all, showcasing the power and timbre of her voice - snippet in the video below:
Rain on Us Saint Honesty
I am always amazed how consistently good her performances are and that she seems like a genuinely nice person, in addition to being transparent about her faults.

So if you like lyrical, complex songs, performed impeccably, go see Sara Bareilles and her Amidst the Chaos Tour while you can. Or, if you will be in London in January (2020), she will be playing the main character, Jenna, in Musical Waitress in London's West End.

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Fall Has Arrived

October gave us summer, winter and fall weather all rolled up into 31 days.

I liked the fall portion the best, even if it was a bit short lived.
Hidden River

Take the Path

Golden Days

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End of Summer Family Photos in the Prairie

Back in July I took photos of my good friend, Grace, and her lovely family using the backdrop of the prairie. I've taken their photos over the last three years and unfortunately, this may be the last time as they move back to the west coast. I wanted to capture the essence of the prairie setting as a reminder of their eight years among the cornfields. Of course, the prairie style park right in our neighborhood provided the perfect setting.

DGOL Family 2019

DGOL Family 2019

I befriended Grace through yoga class at the local YMCA; when she expressed an interest in running, we started running together. She and her oldest son are natural runners and I will miss their energy and exuberance on our group runs.

DGOL Family 2019

Today's Photo tip - Reducing Glare from glasses
One challenge for photographing a person wearing glasses like David here is minimizing glare or reflections from the lenses. The first photo has more glare than the one above. About half way through the shoot I realized there was a lot of lens glare; I re-positioned myself and the subjects to minimize it - this entailed moving to an area where the light was more filtered (like in the shade) and positioning the camera higher. Bonus tip - utilize a step stool to gain height (especially for us shorter people). Aside from my camera and lenses, the step stool is my most utilized tool while taking photos of people.

Grace, David and boys - we miss you but I know I will see you again!

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