I’ve seen Vanessa Carlton live a handful of times since she graced us with her 2002 piano-laced smash “A Thousand Miles,” and each time is a wonderfully unique experience. The latest was, once again, at the intimate Casbah, located in the heart of Little Italy, San Diego. (Click HERE to read my recap of her 2016 show at The Casbah!)
Vanessa opened the set with her biggest hit “A Thousand Miles,” mentioning something to the effect of.. “let’s get this out of the way, so I can play the record I’m on the road promoting” (.. which is fantastic, btw). I’m certain after she was finished, she could breathe a bit easier. It also worked out for me as it made space closer to her afterwards since apparently people came to the show to hear one song, and leave. Okay, buh-bye!
Paired with the uber-talented Skye Steele on violin, Vanessa dove into the sparklingly optimistic “Carousel,” juxtaposed with the heartbreaking solemn “Fairweather Friend,” which sent my feels into a tizzy. The latter she introduced with “never read a letter that’s not intended for you” adding “when your partner is not in the city they claim to be in, that’s a problem.” Vanessa seized the moment to tap into my nostalgia by following with the dreamy “Us vs. the World” anthem entitled “Who’s To Say” from 2004’s Harmonium.
Next, Vanessa went into the first single off Harmonium, “White Houses,” a song that got banned from MTV because of a controversial lyric. Yes, that’s right. MTV used to play music videos (CONCEPT!) and banned a Vanessa Carlton video because of a suggestive lyric. Ahhh, 2004. We were all so innocent then. Skye Steele’s violin accompaniment paired beautifully with Vanessa’s exquisite piano skills and “provocative” (*eyeroll*) coming of age story.
The brooding but driving “Take It Easy” was plucked out on the piano next as she continued into the chronological order of her latest offering, Liberman. A large oil painting by her grandfather hung behind her for the entire concert. She explained how the painting inspired the latest record and how her grandfather had changed their family name from Liberman to Lee, as he owned a shop and thought the more ethnic sounding Liberman would prevent him from being successful. After delivering an emotional rendition of fave album track “Nothing Where Something Used to Be,” she introduced a beautifully haunting new track, “Love Is an Art.”
This new addition and “I Don’t Want To Be a Bride” were my favorite portions of the night, aside from amazing opening act, Tristen, calling out the obnoxious talkers earlier in her set. Vanessa brought Tristen back out for the tongue-in-cheek closer of Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz.” What better way to end a Friday evening than to listen to a wonderful duet that skewers consumerism? TURN UP!
Check out Liberman or, if you really want to dive in, Liberman Live, now available via Dine Alone Records. You can tune in to Vanessa’s music across many of our Core and Custom programs, including Cashmere, FM1, and 7890.
– Submitted by Tristan Bolden, Music Design