The weather was mild and the sky was a clear blue these last few days in Northern California. There was none of the usual fog in San Francisco this past weekend, but there is a persistent, personal ArchuFog surrounding me after two days of concerts in Santa Rosa and San Francisco. Friends gathered, personal stories were shared, and new faces were connected to screennames. Some of us enjoyed some precious face-to-face time with David, and all of us lost ourselves in the joy of the Voice. It is sweet to enter this vortex, and I’m in no hurry to leave it.
Perhaps it’s a somewhat awkward idea to combine pop and Christmas songs in one show, but it mostly worked. The short break in between the sets, and the clothing changes for both David and the band helped to change the mood. But some fans were still confused apparently, and were reaching out to touch him as he sang some of the sacred songs. Imagine a girl reaching out to grab David’s leg while he’s singing about the birth of Jesus – a bit of a disconnect! But the wide variety of songs showcased David’s amazing ability to sing anything and everything. He is equally at home with Spanish 16th c. carols, jazz-tinged Christmas standards, and jump-up-and-down pop hits.
Someone (his mother? some professional? David himself?) is doing something right as far as dressing David. The black and white plaid shirt and black pants (not church pants, thank you very much) fit perfectly and highlighted his hair and coloring. For the second section David added a tuxedo jacket to the pants, plus a dark purple shirt. Sneakers were changed to black Sperry Topsiders to create a look that was formal, but young and hip. All memories of The Suit are happily erased with this outfit. (Sorry silverfox!) David has never looked more fit and trim and downright gorgeous.
As to the shows themselves – where to begin? If the Santa Rosa venue wasn’t sold out, then it was darn close. The crowd looked like a mix of David fans of all ages and types, with the addition of those who were perhaps only there because they had subscribed to the Wells Fargo Performing Arts concert series. The Demi Lovato-loving tweeners were few and far between. At the VIP, I was surprised that David allowed the group to choose the two songs he would sing. “What do you want to hear?” he asked. I shouted out Mary Did You Know? Others shouted out a number of other songs, but I was delighted that he decided to sing my choice. He asked Kendra if she knew it and off they went. What a treat! Some of you may remember the grainy YouTube of David singing this song at a holiday event before the AI 7 season. Many of us have been mesmerized by this song since then, and were hoping that it would be included on the Christmas album. For the second VIP song, he asked if we would like to hear a pop song. He ended up singing a fully engaged version of Zero Gravity.
Each VIP allows a few people chosen at random to ask David a question. Sometimes the questioners ask what his most embarrassing moment has been. Sometimes they simply ask if he will sing a song. In Santa Rosa, we lucky fans were treated to snippets of Be Still My Soul and When You Say You Love Me.
We were all wondering how the San Francisco show would go. Rumors were that the crowd would be small since David gets zero playtime on the radio here. But our fears were overblown. There was a rabid crowd of David lovers of all ages and varieties. Once again, the screamie teenies were in short supply. There were lots of well-dressed guys with fashionable scarves, couples of all ages, and a good number of college-aged fans. It was interesting to compare the behavior of the fans at the two shows. In Santa Rosa people mostly sat in their seats and listened enthusiastically. In San Francisco, the moment that David first appeared, there was an instant mosh-pit at the front of the stage. The whole audience stood for much of the show and shared wonderful, crazy, enthusiastic love for our favorite guy! (Are you listening, local radio stations?)
At the SF VIP, after some audience ideas and discussion, David decided to sing Touch My Hand. He said that he has missed singing this song. A lucky (and persistent) Gengen got a precious touch of David’s hand. For the second song, David once again threw Kendra a curve ball and asked her to accompany him on I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas. Kendra is definitely the MVP of the band. She sings, plays keyboard, piano and violin, and graciously takes whatever David throws at her. One of the VIP questioners asked David what the fans have to look forward to on the next album. David gave no hints about styles of music unfortunately, but shared (with a lot of charming gesticulation) that he is working on songs that express who he is, and how his mind works. Hmmm… does that mean the songs will be full of random observations and non-sequitors? We’ll just have to wait and see.
There were innumerable highlights of the two shows, but several stand out. Fields of Gold in Santa Rosa was transcendent. There had been some problems with sound balance throughout the evening at the Santa Rosa venue. It was sometimes hard to hear the keyboards and the bass was mostly too loud. But for Fields of Gold, it was just David with Steve on acoustic guitar. You could hear the full, rich, velvet brown timbre of his voice. THIS is why we travel to live shows. You could almost describe this live concert voice as the “color” version of the “black and white” sound heard on videos. As fabulous as the videos are, even with HQ and a good pair of headphones, there is nothing like hearing him live. This is a Voice that envelops and surrounds you with everything that is good and pure and beautiful in the world. Suffice it to say, I was completely slayed, and was glad that my concert buddy mikesd was nearby to lean on.
It was a lovely surprise to have Lupe sing with him on Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas on the San Francisco show. The two of them just beam with love for each other and their voices blend together beautifully.
David finished off the shows with O Holy Night. He takes you on a journey with this song, into the hope of something glorious and pure that will transform the world. You can’t help but travel with him. In Santa Rosa he finished the song with the last word, “di-viiiiiiine,” and I was close enough to watch him as he re-engaged with the real world. He looked serene, but was deep, deep within himself as the song ended. After the last note, he seemed almost unaware of his surroundings. I watched his face as he slowly adjusted to seeing the people around him and hearing the noise of the applause. That transformation is something that will stay with me for a long time.
Perhaps in a few days this lovely ArchuFog will clear, and I will return to my normal state. But for now, I am basking happily in the afterglow of the glorious Voice, and in the embrace of friendships new and renewed. Thank you David for all that you do.
(Many thanks to Gengen for her fabulous pictures.)