Sara Bareilles At The Greek Theatre
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By Steve Baltin
When GRAMMY nominees for 2013 were announced last year, Sara Bareilles' nomination in the prestigious Album Of The Year category for her fourth studio album, The Blessed Unrest, led to a flurry of comments, including MTV declaring her a "surprise GRAMMY darling." Compared to fellow nominees Taylor Swift, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Kendrick Lamar, and eventual winners Daft Punk, Bareilles didn't have either the commercial or cutting-edge appeal, but her peers and fans knew that she was a gifted pop tunesmith.
Both of those traits were in abundant display on Aug. 11 as she performed before an adoring crowd at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.
Appropriately opening the SoCal stop of her Little Black Dress Tour with "Little Black Dress" from The Blessed Unrest, Bareilles and her tight six-piece backing band showed immediate ease while performing the fun upbeat tune, setting the tone for a night that was marked by the singer/songwriter's impressively engaging stage presence. After opening the night on piano, Bareilles stepped to the front of the stage and showed off her dancing skills during "I Wanna Be Like Me," after which she expressed amazement over the huge applause and said, "Holy s*** L.A., cheers to you all!"
The light-hearted atmosphere remained strong for the first part of the set as she played the jazzy "Love On The Rocks" and led the entire audience in a sing-along of her 2008 GRAMMY-nominated Song Of The Year "Love Song." Before playing "Hercules," Bareilles took a moment to acknowledge the recent tremendous loss of GRAMMY-winning actor/comedian Robin Williams.
"I feel so sad about Robin Williams," she said, before speaking about how The Blessed Unrest was written during a rough period in her life. "The parallel I want to draw is: Life gets hard and I really believe it gets better," she said, before dedicating "Hercules" to Williams and his family.
Showing all the marks of a veteran performer with fine wit, Bareilles' audience interaction was free and spontaneous. After one fan yelled something undecipherable, Bareilles quipped, "You have a very loud voice, sir. It's gonna come in handy during the ballads."
Her exceptional audience engagement aside, the fans were there for the music, and Bareilles delivered plenty of highlights, including the slow bluesy drawl of "Come Round Soon" and the gorgeous "Gravity." Following her stunning performance of the latter, Bareilles said with a laugh, "I wrote that last song about a douche bag and I wrote this next song about a douche bag because I'm consistent," before launching into "Gonna Get Over You" from her 2010 No. 1 album Kaleidoscope Heart.
Other standout moments included her acoustic cover of Sia's "Chandelier" and, as a special treat for the L.A. audience, her performance of the piano balled "She Used To Be Mine," which she penned for the stage adaptation of the 2007 indie comedy Waitress.
By the time the main portion of the set wrapped with an energetic performance of her GRAMMY-nominated hit "Brave," Bareilles declared, "This is one of my favorite shows I've ever had in my whole life."
There was no doubt many in the audience felt the same.
"Little Black Dress"
"I Wanna Be Like Me"
"Love On The Rocks"
"Come Round Soon"
"She Used To Be Mine"
"Chandelier" (Sia cover)
"Gonna Get Over You"
"Chasing The Sun"
"I Choose You"
"King Of Anything"
"Bright Lights And Cityscapes"
(Steve Baltin has written about music for Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times, MOJO, Chicago Tribune, AOL, LA Weekly, Philadelphia Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, and dozens more publications.)