Having seen Esperanza Spalding earlier this year at a Grammy week event, I knew I wanted to see her again. Putting jazz back on the map with her rise to stardom, I witnessed her light up the stage even when playing in the background for another artist. Getting an e-mail that she’d be back in town to promote her new album, “Radio Music Society”, it was definite I would be there. Reviewing this album for Music Emissions, I was eager to see how she’d translate these songs live.
Arriving at the theatre around a quarter to 8 PM, the line to get in was easily wrapped around the block, indicating the show was sold out. Had never been to this venue before and luckily was able to get a seat in the balcony, which was no small feat, considering the crowds pouring in to see Esperanza. Sat in front of a family with a little girl around 8 years old who was Esperanza’s biggest fan. She knew every word to every song and was dancing in her seat like the show was the best Christmas present ever. Images like that are so inspiring because it’s comforting to know passionate music fans can exist as such an early age.
Doing the bulk of “Radio Music Society”, Esperanza arrived on stage wearing a Chita Rivera “Kiss of the Spiderwoman” dress, in a good mood, explaining the concept behind almost every song (liked the Cinnamon Tree and Black Gold stories the best), making it feel like a MTV Unplugged or VH-1 Storytellers kind of show. Was happy to see her take this approach because although she lit up the stage when I first saw her, I saw a slightly awkward incident offstage at the Grammy event, where adoring teens were waiting to speak with her and it seemed like she declined. But at this concert, she seemed down-to-earth, telling funny anecdotes and revealed a sensitive artist, erasing the previous doubt I had and I will chalk up that last experience to a bad day. The songs featuring a full horn section with plenty of theatrical band solos and Esperanza quickly switching basses expertly had the crowd with some “I’m in the biz and I’ve seen it all” types grooving along. Had a great time and would recommend you join her Radio Music Society.