How long has it been?
It’s been said that David is a quick learner, and apparently this quality also extends to his performance skills. I’ve been gone from these boards about 3 months, but it seems as if he has benefited from the experience of several years.
As some of you may know, I have not been around these parts in a while. I have been tending to my Archuholism as I try to focus on law school and political work. I was actually supposed to write on the Reno performance, but was called back at the last minute to be part of a candidates debate at UC-Berkeley. Frazzled and flummoxed, I looked online to see if there were any tickets available for some other time. And lo and behold, there were tickets available for Salt Lake City, just four seats above the floor! Oh my stars how lucky was I?
So here I was, unspoiled about David’s solo concert. I knew only a few of the songs David would sing, not having seen any videos from the tour except for a couple from the very first stop. On top of that, the E-Center was filled to capacity, and David was going to give all he could for his hometown. And we all know that David’s not too shabby when it comes to finales. So you can imagine my anticipation! After I found my seat I looked up to see a clear view of…
A sound speaker. Apparently, I was one of maybe six people in the entire stadium who had this dang speaker positioned right between me and the lead microphone. This wasn’t a nosebleed seat, but during the opening acts I got a crick in my neck as I alternated between leaning sideways and looking up to the ceiling toward a monitor. I discovered that I could see David better if I sat on the stairwell next to my seat. That brought down the usher, who told me to go back to where I was. Apparently I was violating some fire code. I grumbled and parked my arse. I didn’t know I was so dangerous.
On to the important stuff. David is strengthening as a singer. Here he was, outdoing himself on nearly every song on which I had seen him before, hitting the hard notes more strongly than I remember. And he was able to do this through his entire set.
I grinned and listened for the little touches he added to the songs, thinking about what I could over-think and over-analyze for y’all. “I am here to appreciate a true musician,” I tell myself.
And then something happened. During “Barriers,” while charmingly acting out the lyrics as he lilted through the verses (I love this song!), David sings “We’re not getting any stronger,” flexes his bicep and pats it.
Holy picante sauce! Since when did David become such a flirt? And such a showman to boot. He seems to have a wry self-awareness as he goes through his set—relaxed, and simply enjoying pleasing and performing for the crowd.
Then at other moments he’s exuberant, running around the stage, jumping up and down like an eighteen-year-old. Wait! He IS an eighteen-year-old! His energy is contagious: there’s a definite party atmosphere. I haven’t been to a lot of concerts, but this was by far the most FUN I’ve had during a concert.
Again: how long has it been?
And he goes through his songs with a new aggressiveness: he’s stomping, pleading, pointing, giving burning looks, pushing his shoulder forward. Before his solo tour, even as he became intense (DLTSGDOM) it was as if he went to some inner place. Then later last fall, he started to bring out the dance and slinked through “Works for Me!” and ran through “Crush” – but still with some self-consciousness and reserve.
But that’s all gone now. David is confident, looking straight at the audience, knows exactly what he is doing with his movements, and enjoying every minute of it. There’s no choreography here—his movements are raw, natural. He gets into the groove of the song and lets the song move his body. He has grown to become – dare I say it? – very SEXY.
There. I said it. Is that a bad word around here? 🙂 Has it been like this all through the tour? He may not be hip swiveling, but there is definitely some X factor going on here.
How long has it been?
David breaks out into “Como La Flor” and gives us some soft consonants. I close my eyes and savor the aural chocolate.
Then he stopped! David, I love you, but yo quiero hear the full song, with some sultry background music.
Virtually every song is different from the studio versions and made better, more intense, more immediate. During AI, although he did creative and wonderful things with his runs and with tone and melody, he generally stayed within the ballad/pop mode of singing. But now David is showing more and more of his soul roots.
There’s nice little surprises – I loved his little play on pronunciation in Barriers (“Open up our ay-ees”), And I also loved the end to “Works for Me!,” when he added a couple of funky syncopations that reminded me of classic R&B and funk. And oh my heck the soulful acappella ending to “My Hands” was brilliant. I don’t know if he improvised or not, but either way the notes he found were surprising, somehow just right, and passionate.
David’s description of the kind of music he wants to do – I believe it was soul-infused pop – truly is fitting. I would love to hear him do more crossover stuff in this area in the future.
Or maybe he could become a dance club artist. I had heard the studio recording of “Zero Gravity” and I had seen his very first performance of this on YouTube. But none of that prepared me for the energy in that room! This song was catchy, fun, and danceable, and made you want to jump in the air (zero gravity!). David and most of the crowd were jumping up and down. And whoever said David can’t dance? This is destined to be a single and I can’t wait to see the music video. 🙂
And on the topic of singles, this song and “Barriers,” were very, VERY fun songs live, and I think they both could be pop hits. (My humble opinion of course.)
And then there was “Somebody Out There.”
Some of you will know that I already have a love affair with this song. SOT and I go waay back. It’s simple, it’s earnest, it’s raw, just perfect for David to add his soulful touch. And it’s no coincidence, of course, that David co-wrote it.
Well, he surpassed the studio version by a mile. Whatever place in his spirit this song came out of, David is digging even deeper now. There’s an extra ounce of yearning and earnestness in every word. And I love his musical touches: the delicious “Oooh” during the bridge, the contrasting variation at the beginning of the last chorus. Then that phrase in the very last moments of the song – there are no words! How does David manage to be so creative, innovative – on top of that masterful in his execution – in breaking our hearts like that! We are witnessing a musical maestro.
And David ended the night with “Angels.”
THIS is how I wanted him to play it since I saw his EFY performance – his voice soaring above a lone piano. And he outdid himself – again.
He managed to bring the intimacy from his Seton Hall performance, and combined that with the awesome power of his Tulsa performance. And now he played the bridge on the piano (yay!), and took the song to that higher level.
We knew we were witnessing something great – it was as if a fierce storm had built up and was passing through the place. The final screams and cheers began long before David’s last notes.
THIS is a glimpse into David’s future. Years down the line, after his career is established and long enough that we can look back on his list of triumphs, THIS is the image of David that people will think of the most—a singer accompanying himself on the piano, voice soaring, bringing out every emotion, from bliss to pain to contentment.
When I think back to last night, I think most to his piercing cry near the end of “Angels.”
And that was how David bade farewell: farewell to us fans, farewell to his first solo tour. I felt a strange sense of bittersweetness – not just because he leaves us for the UK, where I know he will win over thousands of new hearts when he reprises their “Angels” with a dose of American soul – but also because when he comes back he won’t be exactly as I now know him. He will have grown even more in talent, broadened his horizons, discovered new powers within himself.
Although he will always be the same David, in some strange way I will barely recognize him.
And I’ll be shaking my head saying: “How long has it been?”
* Postscript: It really is true what they say that Utahns are nice. My airport shuttle driver was talkative – after coming back back from the war 38 years ago, he stayed in Salt Lake City one winter for work. He spent the summer there, and fell in love with the place.
“Great place to raise a family,” he said. “Crime is low, not a lot of bad things for kids to get drawn up in. Last year, there were 55 murders in Utah.”
Pretty dang low!
I stood in a huge line at the airport, when actually (because I had no luggage to check-in) I should have just gone straight to the express line. To my right, rushing up to the express line, is Jeff! He appears to be in a hurry, so I decide not to bother him. Besides, I didn’t want to lose in my place in that long line. (I still didn’t know I didn’t belong there.)
But apparently there’s something Jeff needs, so he steps out. I walk up to the counter and get my boarding pass. When I turn around, I see Jeff – and David!
All these thoughts race through my mind – there’s that awesome, uber-talented guy who sang his heart out last night! I thought I would never get to see him in person again! And he and I have matching jackets!!
I approach him and say “David!”, but apparently he thinks I’m some old friend he no longer recognizes or that I’m crazy. I should have prefaced it with “I’m a fan!” or “I was at the concert!”
He gives me a look of either confusion or profound concern.
Then I say “You were awesome last night.”
“Thank you!!” His voice is hoarse, and he puts his hand up to his mouth as he clears his throat. He gave his all last night!
“Oh, you must be on vocal rest!” I take out my wallet and remove the “Rising Star Outreach” charity card that was given out during the concert. I flip it around to Molapro’s drawing and ask David to sign it – and give him my blue ballpoint pen.
He furrows his eyebrows as he scratches the pen onto the card to get the ink flowing. He scrawls his signature. (Stupid me. I had a Sharpie in my bag!)
I thanked him and went on my way, grinning. I must have looked like an idiot, with my stupid words and my stupid pen. But yay – I just bumped into David!
And later on, at my departure gate, there was David, at a nearby gate with Jeff and Lupe. Several people approach and take pictures with him. I glare at them with jealousy as I realize I should I have brought a camera with me.
Didn’t Silverfox also get to bump into David – twice? I think that we in the nD/jD community are blessed. Good karma for all the love we show on this page, I sez.
Moral of the story? Stand in the wrong line. You never know what will happen. And join the nD/jD community too.