Thursday, April 30, 2009
Shadows and Light Tour
There were so many words and feelings swirling around me during the Lior concert that I went to see tonight. I had to blog about it, just to remember it. Sorry. You don't have to read it or anything! It's rather long and a bit ramble-y but it feels oh-so-important to get it out.
Once in awhile, it really hits home to me about what I do and why I do it. It is inevitable in life that, every once in awhile, something or someone will inspire you more than other things and other people have recently. Being inspired to continue is the greatest feeling; it validates your belief in yourself. Sometimes, there'll be somebody who comes along and just blows your mind, every time; somebody who tends to validate your reason for breathing.
Check out the picture up top. (I'm sure he won't mind, should he ever be extremely bored and searching amongst the internet attic for mentions of his own name, with additional search terms of "oh god" and "possibly the best person in the world"). That's Lior. Who's Lior? You probably already know. In fact, you've probably already had your own version of discovering Lior for yourself! You've probably been to one or more of his gigs in your town. You've probably stood in the crowd and swayed to 'Bedouin Song' or 'Diego and the Village Girl' and had your own epiphany. Well, that's cool. Let me rave on about mine.
The first time I saw Lior live was probably at least three years ago now, if not four. He was holed up in the Republic Bar, in North Hobart. Packed house. He managed to silence the place when he sang, and I was so impressed. How could anybody be so at ease on a pub stage and yet appear as though they would be equally at home singing from the top of a pyramid, or in a lush forest, or in a market, or a famous concert hall stage? He was remarkable to me. Until that date, I had never encountered a singer who was SO FABULOUS live. I knew his album ("Autumn Flow"), and was amazed that his live show was even BETTER. I had never encountered a singer who managed to make their live shows better than their recordings. Lior did that. He improvised confidently, and took us down pathways to his Eastern heritage (hell's bells - a topic I won't go into now, but, suffice to say that, ever since viewing "Aladdin" as a young girl, I always wanted to explore a thesis topic to do with Eastern ornamentation in vocal music - and then I met the hierarchy at the post-grad department at uni - blech). I was young in my musical and singing education back then (and still am, God forbid), but I knew that what I was seeing and hearing was special, and unique to Lior. He delivered his show with rare honesty that I've never found in another singer.
Moving forward about a year, I saw Lior again, in a different venue. A place called "The Venue" (which is actually about a two-minute walk from my current doorstep, but that's another stalkerish point altogether). Lior was more on display here, less of the pub noise; it was more like a concert instead of a gig, and it suited him. Fast-forward to a couple of months ago, and I was like, "Wut? Excuse me? Lior is doing a show at the Theatre Royal?" (One of the oldest, most haunted and most elaborate theatres in the history of Australia.) This, I had to see.
Lior, you never disappoint me (or your millions of other fans worldwide). This time, Lior brought along not only a string quartet (more on that in a minute), but an opening act (which, come to think of, he did both other times as well... duh) and a master craftsman whose speciality is shadow puppeteering. WOW. How innovative is that? One bloke and his guitar, with four string players, a girl with HER guitar, and a guy showcasing shadow puppetry. What a team. Magic! The string arrangements for Lior's songs were lovely. Nothing too adventurous and nothing out of the ordinary, but completely suitable and didn't detract from or steal the spotlight from Lior at all. Enhancing the mood nicely, I'll say. The shadow puppeteering in a really big moon-shaped blob on the back curtain during the songs was - shall I use the word again? - masterful. Entirely creative, this guy, Stephen somebody, was backstage using all manner of strange and unrelated objects to create shadows of stories on the screen; stories which had been carefully thought out and designed to reflect a kind of story and mood to accompany each song. Wow! Didn't know what to watch - the shadows, the string players or Lior! I don't know why I'm so surprised at the showmanship of this tour but I guess I really wasn't expecting it.
That quick minute on the string players - I knew the first violinist! I don't know her well or anything (she is amazing, whereas I am - hello? Have you BEEN paying attention?), but she got to play with Lior! So jealous right now...
Lior's witty repartee between songs has really relaxed. He wasn't ever uptight or anything, but all the experience that he's gained since his first national tour has really shaped him into an even more charismatic, funny person, who just seems so at home on the stage. He delivered so many funny stories and one-liners to the audience tonight. It was really great. He is an awesome story-teller. I am really impressed with his growth as a performer. Vocally, he was as impressive as ever, but I was most interested by the showmanship - the thing that really sells you to your audience, you know? Boring thing for me to notice, but that's what I noticed.
In his show tonight, Lior got kind of personal and mentioned a time where he was living in London, and feeling completely uninspired by his surroundings and his day-to-day activities. He talked about almost forgetting the reason that he was in music to begin with. And can't we all identify with that? It's taken me ten years, some performance experience, plenty of life experience and a few hypnotherapy sessions with a very qualified psychologist for me to nut out that I am not the only person who feels like this. I am NOT the only musician who ever feels like this. Lior talked about needing to rediscover what it was that he so loved about music, and being inspired by a cleaner at his apartment whose dreams were so close to the surface of her that she was blinking back tears after talking about them for only a minute. Isn't that kind of wonderful? I mean, she probably feels shit most of the time that she's not living her dream (hence the tears), but isn't it also kind of amazing and beautiful and wondrous that her dreams are, as Lior put it, so close to the surface? I had to agree. I think it is the most tragic thing in the world for somebody to forget their dreams.
My dad sent me an email forward the other day (as he often does), that was directed at older people. It said something about how, as you grow older, you learn what it feels like to regret having never pursued some of your dreams. This forwarded email (always so bittersweet with a touch of irony - if only the writers of these crappy forwards put their names on the emails so that they, too, could be famous for fifteen minutes) gave the impression that it is completely normal for people not to have pursued some of their dreams in life.
Well, BUGGER OFF.
Whose dumb idea was that?!
Shit. This life, you know? It ends. One of these days, maybe sooner than I want, my life is going to end. It is. I'm going to stop breathing, and everything that I will have been working on (no doubt leaving piles of unfinished scrapbooking, hundreds of unread books, my bed messy, piles of things "to be sorted" on the floor and half-learned songs scattered all over the house) will be cleaned up, dealt with, shelved, sold, given away and moved on from. It's true! Are you frightened of it? I am, a little bit. I'm worried that I'll die before I get a chance to really experience everything I want to experience. I mean, I don't lie awake thinking, "Oh shit, really gotta work on that opera career" or "Christ be Jesus, must get me that seventh book in The Princess Diaries series tomorrow because I might be dead by Sunday". It could be a cool personality quirk if I did, but I think mostly it'd just be annoying. For me, and for you, because you'd be reading about it. Hell, you're reading this. What's to say you wouldn't read the neurotic blog posts of a paranoid woman?
One day, I'm going to die. And so are you. And I don't want there to be ANY regrets.
(I also don't want any of my previous English teachers to see my incorrect usage of the word "and" so many times in one blog post...)
I don't want to get to forty and regret not having done this. This! This. What Lior is talking about. On a different scale. I'm getting to the point. Do you know what Lior does for me? He does for me what somebody else does for you. You probably know who it is, but I don't know who you are, so I'm just going to attempt to guess. Let's say yours is Kermit the Frog. The little green man excites you and makes you want to live peacefully and spread happy messages of love, green-love, ribbits and world peace to small children on network television. Every time you see him do something great, you get so keyed up! You get so excited! He is affirming your desire to help the world! "SAVE THE CHILDREN FROM BORING TV!" you will shout from your rooftop, after viewing the newest and greatest Muppet movie. "WORLD PEAAAAACE!" you will yell, as though Kermit is there yelling it with you. You feel like somebody understands your point of view. Somebody validates your TRUTH. Your reason for living. Your reason for breathing. The one thing that you want to achieve more than anything else in your entire life. Somebody else wants that and is living that and they're being a living inspiration to you each and every day. It's such a powerful feeling. It makes my tummy bubble happily and words spin around crazily in my head, begging to escape, and an all-powerful, all-encompassing desire to leap out of my theatre seat and race down to the stage, skidding on, panting, and going, "Sorry I'm late! I was dozing up there!"
It can be so hard. It is so nice to hear somebody so successful talk about how hard it can be to keep going. Isn't it nice to know that people with successful music careers, big tours, mega respect and mega bucks can also suffer from this scary thing that is pursuing music as a valid career and lifestyle choice? Geez, man. It's kind of frightening. All I know, and all I've ever known, is that there are many different choices out there for me to make, and many different career paths that I could've ventured down, but this is the one that lights my fire. This is the one that sets my blood ablaze and rigs up one hell of a party in my body. Music makes me want to sing, to dance, to run around in mad circles barking happily, to write prolific amounts of words than can never do justice to what I feel and to pass on this happy, happy feeling to all of the little cherubs who cross my path and want to learn to sing. Music makes me feel more alive than anything else on the face of the earth. I want to sing EVERY type of song, and master EVERY genre of singing that there is. I don't want to be restricted by anyone or anything and I want to experience everything. Music is my dearest friend, and my partner for life. I could never shun it. But sometimes, this realistic world in which we live brings me down occasionally, and the lack of money, the lack of security and the constant adventure can wear me down...
Isn't it nice to know that Lior feels the same way?
Thanks, Lior. You and your stunning concert (as always) have just made me feel glad I'm alive.