On April 15th, I was fortunate enough to catch singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles’ show at Belmont University in “Music City USA” (Nashville, TN). Having never seen her perform, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I had heard she’s entertaining. I got a chance to meet some fans before the show. One had traveled all the way from California to attend the concert and others came from Chicago. Now those are dedicated fans, traveling many the miles to get to her. (I just couldn’t resist).

Once the doors opened, the attendees rushed in to get the best seats possible since it was a general admission show. It began promptly at 7:30 with The Collective, who kicked off their set by covering Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good.” The Collective is a group of local singer/songwriters from Nashville (a few of the members are Belmont alumni) who joined their singing talents together and competed on the fall 2011 season of NBC’s a capella competition TV show, The Sing-Off. They placed 8th among the contestants, but their performances were enough to get, then judge, Sara Bareilles’ attention. She features them as backing vocals on “Stay,” one of the singles she recorded with Ben Folds for her soon-to-be-released EP. My personal favorites from their set were their rendition of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and Far East Movement’s “Rocketeer.”

Part of me hoped they would perform one of Sara’s songs with her, but apparently there was not enough rehearsal time to put something together. They engaged the crowd throughout their set and ended it with Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Shortly after, it was time for Sara Bareilles.

When Sara walked on stage and greeted the crowd, her excitement to be there was genuine. Keeping with the a capella theme, she started off her set with a vocal-only version of “Gravity” and I must say I was captivated. So was the rest of the audience, as a hush came over the arena.

When it was over, she started to get comfortable and had her band do a vamp as she walked to the piano. It was a go-with-the-flow kinda night since she hadn’t had much sleep or enough time to rehearse. Before she sat down, she noticed an admirer (whom we later found out was “Jacob the Poet”) had left some flowers for her with a note/poem he had written. Since the band had started the vamp, Sara decided to rap the written note. It turned out to be an invitation to be Jacob’s date to his prom.

The vamp helped put the band “in the pocket”, as they say, and they flowed right in to her hit off Kaleidoscope Heart, “Uncharted.” They were using a partially unplugged setup, which I was not accustomed to seeing for such a large venue, but I think it worked. I really enjoy songs played with alternate tunings for the acoustic guitar so I appreciated that Sara played  “Basket Case” as part of her set list. Alternate tunings just add that extra emotion to a given song, know what I’m saying?

She followed that  by treating the audience to one of the new songs on her Record Store Day release, “Beautiful Girl,” a song she says she wrote to her 15-year old self. Sara performed two covers during the night, Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” and Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes,” but made them original enough. She also tried out an alternate version of “Love on the Rocks” and was candid enough to admit that she didn’t think that particular version worked well live. It had a sexy groove to it though and I liked the band’s breakdown at the bridge. She then energized the crowd once again when she began playing the opening chord sequence to her first hit, “Love Song.” The band seemed to have the most fun playing that one. She closed out the night with “King of Anything” but the crowd wanted more and kept chanting the oh-oh’s to “King of Anything” so she returned and sang two more songs.

This being my first time at a Sara Bareilles show, I was definitely not disappointed and will do my best to catch her when she comes to Atlanta the next time around. It was a wholly unique experience and she turned me into a fan. If she adds any more dates to her summer schedule, I recommend adding her to your concert-going experience. Prepare to be converted.

– Submitted by Akrofi Koram, Hardware Specialist