Monday, November 04, 2013

Spectral Sarah Brightman show impresses

My review of Sarah Brightman's Nov. 2, 2013 concert at Honda Center was posted on The Orange County Register site on Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013.

Sarah Brightman at Honda Center on Nov. 2. Photo: Kelly A. Swift
Wide range of powerfully performed songs at Honda Center came with stunning visuals.

While it might be plausible to hear material by alternative outfits Elbow ("One Day Like This"), Sigur Rós ("Glósóli") and Cocteau Twins ("Eperdu") covered by artists at Coachella or another renowned music festival, it’s less expected to hear such songs performed by operatic pop star Sarah Brightman. Yet she delivered all of them superbly during the first half of her tour-ending appearance in Anaheim Saturday night.
Next at Honda Center: Drake with Miguel, Nov. 21, $59.75-$109.75; Michael Bublé, Nov. 24, $62.50-$115; Justin Timberlake, Nov. 27, $53.50-$179; Jay Z, Dec. 6, $32.50-$150; Chicano Soul Legends featuring Thee Midniters, Tierra, Malo and more, Dec. 7, $20-$65
Call: 800-745-3000
Not only did the enduring English soprano revisit those art-rock favorites during her Honda Center concert, but they were effortlessly incorporated into her distinctive manner, which blends musical theater, symphonic rock, opera, world music and electronica without short-changing any of those approaches. Her version of Elbow’s already sumptuous track was particularly effective, with her strong four-member band capturing the nuanced dynamics of the piece as it grows into an explosive anthem.
Having long been credited with pioneering the so-called classical crossover genre, the 53-year-old singer is likely one of few artists capable of tackling works as varied as Puccini’s "Nessun dorma" (the aria from "Turandot" provided a dramatic finish to the first half of her show), Paul McCartney’s "Venus and Mars" and Spanish songwriter José María Cano’s "Hijo de la Luna.” Impressively, she fuses her own style onto them without abandoning key elements of the original compositions.
Sarah Brightman on Nov. 2. Photo: Kim Kinsler
Brightman's two-hour performance, spread across two acts and several gown changes, concluded the delayed stateside leg of her current Dreamchaser Tour, in support of her 11th solo album of the same name, centered on her interest in the heavens. Indeed, there has been widespread coverage of the singer's plans to visit the International Space Station in 2015, and her lifelong interest in interstellar exploration was further conveyed via stunning images of Earth and the moon as well as vintage footage from NASA and Russia’s space program, all projected on a large digital screen behind her.
So while Brightman herself moved very little during the concert, apart from being raised on a lift, the movements of several female dancers plus her show’s bold lighting and engaging images added power to her captivating vocals.
The constantly shifting range of material made for an interesting night. After launching with a number of songs from "Dreamchaser," she revisited some of her best-loved material, including the popular duet "Canto Della Terra" (performed with tenor Erkan Aki), the aforementioned "Nessun dorma" (which received thunderous applause) and a tender version of the traditional English ballad "Scarborough Fair,” popularized by Simon & Garfunkel.
Brightman and Aki also teamed up to deliver a crowd-pleasing rendition of "The Phantom of the Opera," ghoulish images of a castle projected behind them. Her soaring tone was on full display as the two singers harmonized powerfully while the band rocked solidly.
The next song, her internationally adored weeper "Time to Say Goodbye," utilized more tender elements of Brightman's voice, and the encore included a symphonic rendition of McCartney's planetary piece before the evening ended with an uplifting electronic version of her popular single "A Question of Honour."
Sarah Brightman's voice remains a wonder. Photo: Kim Kinsler

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