ladiesandgentlemen1

This photograph from the Worcester show inspires me to imagine how exciting it will be when David can really carry a concert on his own. It’s hard to know when that will be.

Some of you got very annoyed with me because I had issues with David’s performance at the concert I attended. I felt that there was a substantial gap between the degree of care and discrimination he puts into his songs and the almost complete lack of same in his non-singing moments. It’s not that I felt that there was any significant amount of discomfort in his patter, his presence, or in his audience rapport–he was entirely competent–it’s just that he has not yet gotten to a place where his skill in that dimension is anywhere near where his skills are in the musical portions. But the cha-ruth of the matter is that the whole thing is a performance, and David will eventually learn that.

Don’t get me wrong–it’s not “professionalism” per se that I’m looking for in the non-musical dimension, the last thing I would ever want to see is David Archuleta somehow becoming “slick” like Cook or Cook; I’ll be the first to mourn if he ever relinquishes the aw-gosh laughs or even the slight physical awkwardness that betrays such an appealing vulnerability. What I am looking for, and which will eventually happen (I have no doubt), is the same level of conscious command of the stage and the audience as he so brilliantly displays in his songs: A great concert is not a series of disconnected musical moments but a total experience.

I’ve always been reluctant to bring up this analogy, despite the fact that I’ve thought of it often in regards to David, because it’s such an old-school reference, but here goes. Seeing Judy Garland live in concert was reputed to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. People who were not even big fans of hers would apparently emerge from her shows with tears and laughter and drained of every ounce of emotional energy. Garland had a unique ability to juxtapose incredible skill, unparalleled professionalism, and immense vulnerability. You never knew what to expect from her, yet at the same time you knew you were in extremely capable hands. It was a thrilling combination of suspense and trust. David’s potential for emotional impact across an entire show is no less than Garland’s, in my opinion. The nature of the impact would obviously not be the same (Garland was as much a cynic as a wide-eyed child, making for both hilarity and pathos), but the degree to which an audience can be moved by an artist in an evening’s performance is as potentially significant in the case of David Archuleta.

For the sake of peace, I also want to make a couple of things clear about these observations. First, I think that one of the challenges with a talent like David is that because his skill in certain areas is so remarkable, that it sets up expectations in other areas where he is not as prodigal and where he lacks experience. These gaps won’t last. He is a fast learner. And, I want to make it clear that although no one expects him to be anywhere other than where he is right now (and goodness knows, that’s enough — I’m not sure my heart could take any more), that it doesn’t obviate the opportunity to offer thoughtful, constructive criticism.

Finally, on a personal note, I’d like to make it clear that although I welcome dissenting opinions and support healthy debates, there are two things I will not support here on notingDavid, so take note: (1) I will not tolerate personal attacks of even the most benign nature, in other words, criticize the idea, not the person; and (2) I will not respond well to suggestions or implications that I do not support David one-hundred percent, one-hundred percent of the time. If for whatever reason such a thing occurs to you, then you are laboring under a misapprehension. In any case, if that’s the way you feel, keep it to yourself.