Queen Bareilles in Cleveland > King James

On July 11, royalty officially came back to Cleveland. No, I'm not talking about "King James"; I'm referring to queen of everything, Sara Bareilles, who performed at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica* as part of her Little Black Dress Tour just hours after Cleveland began celebrating LeBron's return. In an "I'm so excited. I'm so scared." moment even Jessie Spano wouldn't envy, the city got some of its best news in a long time. (He hurts us because he loves us).

As Cleveland began healing from four years of PTSD, many of its residents came out to enjoy a few mid-tempo jams from Ms. Bareilles, who joined in on the excitement of the day by wearing a Cavaliers hat with "Cleveland" in big block letters under the brim. As she introduced her two opening acts, Emily King and Hannah Georgas (a tradition that illustrates just one of the ways Sara is unlike any other artist in the business right now. How many other pop stars would come on stage before their headlining set - sans makeup - to introduce their opening act(s) and give a short description of why she picked them to join her tour? None that I've ever seen), she joked "I made a call...You're welcome, Cleveland."

After the two openers, Sara came on stage once again to perform a 19-song set that included tracks from all three of her albums as well as a couple cover songs, a haunting take on Sia's "Chandelier" (<-- click for YouTube link) and an upbeat "My Lovin' (Never Gonna Get It)" by En Vogue. Sara's stage and production were bigger and flashier than any of her previous tours, a testament to her hard work and success over the past several years, culminating in several Grammy nominations and future plans that include an autobiography and penning the score of a Broadway musical based on the film, "Waitress."

One of the most touching moments of the show involved a young girl named Carly (sp?) and a series of interactions that she'll probably remember for the rest of her life. After wearing her Cavs hat once again while performing her current single "I Choose You" (LeBron chose us, guys. He didn't mean what he did), Sara gave the hat and her guitar pick to Carly in the front row.

Then, a few songs later, Sara commented on Carly's adorable dancing throughout the show and brought her on stage for a hug and a few pictures. Clutching the hat and guitar pick for the rest of the evening, Carly was clearly the star of the show.

*Special shoutout to this gorgeous venue, which I'd never been to before. The stage sits just in front of Lake Erie, and you can even see boats pass by behind the show. However, make sure you aren't in the front row like I was; the stage, about 10 feet high, really blocks your view. You are much better off farther back. There are really no bad seats in this intimate venue - except front row center. But hey, the side of Sara Bareilles' piano is really shiny.

Check out all my photos here.

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