The Blessed Bareilles: Live in Chicago 2013

Earlier this month, I posted a link to the full audio of Sara Bareilles' concert in Chicago, and now that I've had time to reflect, I think it's important to share a little bit more about the show.

If you have had a chance to listen to the audio, I hope it brought even a percentage of the enjoyment I received from the actual show, because this somewhat crude recording doesn't even scratch the surface of what was a truly spectacular evening event. I've seen Sara perform about 15 times over the past six years, and she has never, ever disappointed. Whether performing a full set or just a handful of songs in support of another artist, she has always brought an unmatched presence to the stage and to her audiences. Not only does she have one of the most stunning and haunting voices in music right now, but she's a one-of-a-kind, genuine comedic gem. Basically, anyone who has ever seen her live or heard her through a YouTube or Soundcloud clip knows that she's a f*cking riot. I'm not even kidding, that innocent, Golden Girls and Little Mermaid-worshipping ball of love spews some of the dirtiest, raunchiest, most intelligently f*cked up humor ever uttered by a card carrying Lilith Fair (circa 2010, the revival) veteran.

But, like I said, this show was special. Currently touring in advance of her third album release (The Blessed Unrest, available July 16), Sara's sold out "Brave Enough" tour only passed through about a dozen major cities, the closest to Toledo being the Chicago stop. I knew when the tour was announced that it wasn't something to be missed, no matter the miles. And, in truth, it is very rare to get to experience a show like the one Sara gave at the intimate Park West venue, particularly from an artist who is fully capable of selling out venues five times its size.

Imagine a VH1 Storytellers-esque setting. Nothing but a modest piano, a couple mic stands, and a sprinkling of a few guitars and ukuleles on the stage. Just an artist, her voice, and her instruments. That's what Sara brought to Chicago, performing alone on stage, essentially for the first time, without a backing band. It was extraordinary, and she had the entire room of about 1,000 fans in the palm of her exquisitely talented hands. On that night, any one of the people in the audience could have claimed to be "Sara's biggest fan," and every one of them would have been right. Gliding through a nearly two-hour set list of old favorites (some with new arrangements), some brand new future favorites, and extended between-song conversations, Sara sang and spoke from her heart, on a stage decorated like her own Manhattan living room while making every audience member feel at home. She was, blessedly Bareilles.

All of my photos can be viewed here.

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