Needless to say, I've never actually had the pleasure of attending anything at Upright Cabaret, though I have admired both Chris and Shane for YEARS for successfully starting a classy cabaret to highlight gifted LA talent (much like the Joe's Pub and Birdland of NYC) here on the West Coast. I knew doors opened at 7pm, but Michael wouldn't start performing until 9pm...
I was a little apprehensive because I was going alone... I mean, what would I do for two hours in a cabaret setting by myself before the show started? Another thing that made me initially uneasy was that the Event page on FB had a list of attendees who were all industry people - which is fine - but industry people that I don't know.
So, I was a bit apprehensive as I made my way down to Hollywood... I had a hard time finding the place, because it was in the corner of a restaurant - and there was really no signage to identify it from the street. The venue itself turned out to be VERY cozy and quaint. There was a bar, tables, and couches on the side. I got seated at a couch near the far wall next to two other people who seemed to have come by themselves as well. We all started talking and found out that we were all fans of Michael's and we had all first seen him perform live at Pippin... We spent the time before the concert talking and getting to know each other - it was VERY nice!
Michael came out at about 9:05pm after Shane lit about 2 dozen candles on the stage (he was singing Joni Mitchell, after all!) :) He wore a VERY nice black shirt and jeans... and yes, he was barefoot! :D What I LOVE about Michael when he performs is that he really FEELS the music... You can see it in his performance. He never just sings the songs - you can tell the music gets inside him and what he shares with the audience is how HE feels each piece... SOOOOO amazing to be in a live audience to experience that... it's VERY... personal.
He spoke a little between the songs, but not too much like I'm used to hearing in cabarets... He did a small mention about how he came to love Joni Mitchell's BLUE album - it was back in Interlochen when he and his class did a play with her album in the background as the score and they timed everything so certain lines would be spoken when a particular song played so that the entire play would end exactly when the album did. He jokingly warned us that if he started breaking out into lines from the play, it was only out of habit. ;)
He seemed a little shy when the music stopped and the attention was focused just on him. He made little tiny mentions of Joni Mitchell's life and tied the various pieces to his life, somewhat. It was all SO... casual and (for lack of a better word) intimate.
When he sang my favorite song, "River" I nearly keeled over... I've seen his YouTube performance of the song, but this performance was a 100 times better! SOOOOO much emotion in his voice and in his expressions... I almost got teary! Since I'm SUCH a fan of body language, I LOVED the little things he does (probably unknowingly...) as he sings... (e.g. clutching his chest during particularly moving moments, etc.) All of it, I think, fueled by how he truly FEELS each song and makes the audience feel it as well.
Really, I don't think I can describe in words what an amazing experience it was... I have seen and loved watching others perform live before... Kevin for example... When Kevin hits those money notes in a live setting, it's like nothing else... But this was different... there was no acting here, no belting like he was singing for a theatre crowd... It was just Michael truly showing a small group of us his heart through songs that he loves. There's nothing that could possibly EVER beat this night for me...
AFTER THE SHOW...
I went up to speak with him after the show to thank him for SUCH an amazing experience.
He remembered meeting me from Pippin and we spoke about a bunch of things: NYC, flying from Hawaii, etc.
When I was ready to leave, I did the "stick out my hand" thing to thank him and he pulled me into
a very sweet hug! :) It was lovely... :) He told me to have a safe flight back.... SO lovely.
A kindred spirit I met that night, Sunli who flew in from San Francisco to see Michael. :)
Sunli was SO much fun! And I'm SO glad we met last night - one more person who appreciates
Michael's incredible talent! :)
I did run into one person I knew there - William who is a member of MTG and I have seen in many
shows! He was SOOO sweet and it was so nice to see him there! :)
I also got to speak with and had a WONDERFUL conversation with Chris Isaacson (one of the creators of Upright) we spoke about mutual friends - he said I looked familiar, but it was the first time we'd actually met. :) He told me to come back, and I told him that when he gets Chad Kimball to come back, so will I! ;) We spoke about MEMPHIS and how happy and proud he was of Chad (they are dear, dear friends) I told him I saw it 4 times in NYC and he said, "I hate you - give me a high 5." :D We spoke about Kevin... He said the thing he likes most about Kevin is that he's SEXY and he can really sing! SO funny! After YEARS of knowing Kevin,... he's just become Kevin... not sure I can think of him as sexy anymore... but I sure agree with the singing part! SUCH a great evening - all around!! SO glad I made the trip!!