“This is so f*cking weird!” exclaimed Sara Bareilles as she walked onto the stage for her sold-out concert at the Rio Theatre on May 9th. That’s typically not the greeting you’d expect from a performer, but when it comes to Sara, anything goes!
I first saw Sara live during her Kaleidoscope Heart Tour in 2010 at the Commodore Ballroom. Two and a half years later, I had the pleasure of seeing her again in Vancouver for her Brave Enough Tour – a very special engagement that has her performing solo acoustic shows at small, intimate venues. No opening acts, no band, no spectacles, just Sara and her one woman show. It’s the type of show fans dream of from their favourite artists!
To build up anticipation for her forthcoming album release, The Blessed Unrest (to be released on July 16th), Sara performed a smattering of old favourites from her previous albums, Little Voice, Kaleidoscope Heart, and the Once Upon Another Time EP, introduced a couple of new and unreleased songs, and re-arranged covers by Otis Redding, Elton John, and Beyoncé.
Sara put her traveling circus of instruments to good use, transitioning with ease from the piano (Uncharted / Love On The Rocks / Love Song / Single Ladies / Sittin’ At The Dock Of The Bay / Bright Lights and Cityscapes) to the acoustic guitar (Let The Rain) to the ukulele (I Just Want You) to the electric guitar (Come Round Soon) to the harmonium (Once Upon Another Time) and back again to her trusty piano (Brave / King Of Anything / Gravity / Goodbye Yellow Brick Road), showcasing her versatility while providing a variety of sounds. In a venue like Rio Theatre, Sara’s passionate and powerful vocal prowess emerged front and center. The space really allowed her to soar on emotional songs like “Gravity”, keeping the audience still and captivated.
Throughout her hour and a half long set, Sara commanded the room with lots of audience interaction – taking requests, striking up conversations with fans (and theatre employees who wanted anything but to be in the spotlight), and getting the audience to participate by providing the harmonies, claps, and whistles (which failed quite miserably, but we tried!) to her well-known songs. The mood was very light and casual, as Sara infused her striking humour to her banter (dropping plenty of f bombs and other profanities) and to her performances (hilariously losing the words to “Single Ladies” without breaking a sweat!). The grand highlight of the night came during the encore, when Sara led the crowd in a free-spirited sing-along of “Part of Your World” from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
Songwriting, which Sara describes as a “sacred and spiritual experience”, is where her fearlessness shines through most, as she writes honest lyrics that come from real experiences – such as relationships, independence, and strength. Sara’s current single, “Brave“, was inspired by a friend who dealt with the challenge of coming out in her adulthood. Sara was moved by her friend’s courage and wrote this empowerment anthem about embracing bravery. To support this Brave initiative, Sara has started an art project, which fans can contribute to by filling out a postcard with what they feel brave enough to do. She is collecting Brave postcards at every tour stop, as well as online through Instagram (#braveenoughtour and #iambraveenough). To share your personal story, download the virtual postcard at http://brave.sarabareilles.com/
As an added bonus, I was extremely fortunate enough to catch Sara after the show, where she was taking photos and signing autographs for fans outside. Along with being sensational, spontaneous, and saucy, she is a super sweet and down-to-earth soul!
Favourite Moments: The moody, bluesy Come Round Soon, Love Song, and of course, the “Part of Your World” sing-along!
2. Love On The Rocks / Bennie And The Jets
3. Love Song
4. Single Ladies
5. Sittin’ At The Dock Of The Bay
6. Bright Lights and Cityscapes
7. Let The Rain
8. I Just Want You
9. Come Round Soon
10. Once Upon Another Time
12. King Of Anything
Follow Sara on Twitter @sarabareilles to stay up-to-date on the Brave Enough Tour, The Blessed Unrest, and all of the crazy shenanigans she gets into!