Sara Bareilles has every reason to be on top of the world: her second major label album, “Kaleidoscope Heart,” delivered her a No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200. First single, “King of Anything” is No. 4 and climbing on the Adult Pop Songs chart and she”s selling out venues as a headliner.
As she took the stage at the beautiful Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday night, she was a ball of energy from the start. The singer/songwriter eschewed the stool in front of the piano, preferring to stand as she pounded the ivories, giving the show an instant shot of energy via such songs as the boundless, buoyant “Uncharted.” Her confidence shone through as she featured her breakthrough hit, “Love Song” early on in the show and offered “King of Anything” about two-thirds in, instead of saving them for the encore.
She”s also finding her footing as a guitarist, having written a few songs on the new album on guitar, including the engaging “Basket Case,” which she amusingly introduced as another instance of her bringing a bit of unnecessary “drama” into a relationship.
Bareilles” often self-deprecating stage patter was as engaging as her playing. Somewhat surprisingly, she curses like a sailor, but in a hilariously profane way. She often responded to comments from the audience, but primarily, her giddiness at finding herself on stage in her adopted hometown in front of a sold-out crowd was apparent. She frequently expressed her appreciation. In one of the toughest touring seasons of the past decade and when there”s more competition for people”s entertainment dollars than ever, it was refreshing to see an artist sincerely express not only their gratitude, but their joy at finding themselves in such a fortunate spot.
Unfortunately, Bareilles suffered from a bad sound mix, with all the instruments, especially the drums, threatening to overwhelm her potent vocals.
That”s why the numbers that stood out were when Barielles dismissed the band and let the best instrument on stage–her voice–remain front and center.
Highlights included a largely a capella version of Radiohead”s “Nice Dream,” where her band stood doo wop style around mikes and vocalized as her crystalline vocals soared through the notes, as well as when she was joined by a capella group Sonos for a glorious version of “Gravity.”
The highlight, however, was her sly, feminist “Fairytale.” Accompanied only by herself on piano, her voice swooped around and over the lyrics, making, quite frankly, the band seem superfluous.