Vanessa Carlton – Park West – Chicago

Vanessa Carlton
Park West – Chicago, IL
Sunday, November 18, 2007

Vanessa Carlton Park West
This girl gets an A in my grade book! She would have gotten an A+ if she had played two more of my favorite songs from her second album, Harmonium. But alas, she did not play “Annie” or “San Francisco,” much to my disappointment. However, she did play all of her hits, even if that only means the three you heard on the radio or saw on VH1: “Ordinary Day,” “White Houses,” and “A Thousand Miles.”

Vanessa Carlton Park West

One thing that I am very big on when it comes to live performances is audience interaction. As an artist and performer, I believe you must acknowledge your fans and the crowd of people that have paid to come and see you play your music. I lose respect for the artist when they do not talk to the fans from the stage in between songs. In Vanessa’s case, she talked SO MUCH in between her songs that I almost wanted her to just shut the hell up and play the next song! Good lord, that girl can ramble and banter on and on and on… But I love her anyway, whether she talks to much or not enough. She performed with only a violinist for the whole show. Some songs she did on her own. Admittedly, the songs sound quite different with only vocals, piano, and violin, but it worked and the music was better than ever.

This was my first time seeing her in concert and I would go to her show again in a heartbeat. I bought her new album from the merch guy after the show because I knew I would not be able to fall asleep that night without listening to all of the new songs I had just heard Vanessa play for the past hour or so. That night was the first time I had heard any of her new songs and I seriously loved every one of them! I got to the venue during the opening act, Graham Colton, and by the time Vanessa came on stage, I was in the second row of people in the general admission “pit” main floor area right in front of the stage. I have both of the songbooks for her first two albums, Be Not Nobody and Harmonium, and have taught myself how to play her songs on the piano. I just HAD to be up in the front to get a good view of her keyboard so I could watch her hands play the same notes I can play. In fact, I was so set on making it to the front row (or as close as I could get) that I told my two friends that came with me to the show that I was “going down in the pit!” and proceeded to ditch them while I walked right on through the crowd. Luckily, these two friends of mine knew how much I loved Vanessa’s music and understood why I had to leave them to go fight my way to the stage!

The first thing that came to mind when she walked on stage was: “Wow! She is freaking tall!” It is beyond me how someone can perform and play the piano while wearing five-inch heels (the pedals!), but Vanessa must be a pro by now. Even without the heels, she must be around 5’9’’ and slender like a ballerina. She was dressed all in black and her famous long black hair was cascading down her back. She performed on her signature piano (YAMAHA – my fav!) with a sort of table cloth thing draped over the top that her grandmother had made for her. Apparently, she never performs without it covering her piano.This show was being filmed for a future DVD and so while the venue allowed cameras to come inside, we all had to turn off our flash when we used them. I took a picture with my flash on – it was an ACCIDENT, I swear! – and got yelled at by a security guard. Then to make matters worse, I was recording “White Houses” on my camera when the SAME security guard totally chastised me in front of all the people standing around me and said if he caught me recording or using flash again, he would take my camera away. Needless to say, I did not turn my camera back on for the rest of the show because I was too scared of that security guy snatching my precious camera away from me.Anyways…Vanessa was totally laid-back, cool, talkative, hyper (too much espresso she claimed) and sweet. She swore (holy shit, fuck, shit) in front of us, but that was okay with me because it made her all the more human. She gets to watch the footage from the video that night and edit it herself so she can cut anything she deems inappropriate – although I wish she would leave everything just the way it was. She admitted to keeping a stash of vodka in her tour bus, which she drinks almost every day with pomegranate and/or cranberry juice to make it red. She made us feel proud of our city when she said she had been spending quite a lot of time in Chicago recently. She was just in town last week or the week before taping a concert special with Stevie Nicks for PBS Soundstage. An artist always gets extra points from me when they talk about Chicago during their live show.