Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Joanna Newsom at Town Hall

Have you ever been whisked away by an enchanting sound? Has a melody for no clear reason made you well up and blubber like a new born babe for minutes until its end, where, you were left in quiet solace, only wishing to be moved like that again? Has a simple strum of a note led you to a toadstool ring at the top of a hill surrounded by a forest full of faeries where you ended up dancing inside your own head until the music stopped?

If the answer is, "Yes", then- I thought I recognized you! You were at the Joanna Newsom concert in town hall, right? Wasn't it amazing? Isn't she beautiful? Oh, what an affair I have with this pixie of a woman and her sounds. Every squeak of her voice, pluck of her harp, a wave in her hair enchants me, and makes me feel a little less human... and a little more mystical. She's MY more accessible version of Loreena McKennit. Hipster be damned- I love her!

Her show at Town Hall a few weeks left me dumb struck. It wasn't as vast an orchestration as I had witnessed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music a few years ago- no- quite contrary to it in fact. This performance was intricate in its talent but simple in its presentation. I felt like I was in an cozy Narnian cave with her, hanging out, and drinking nectar, as opposed to the BAM show, where I felt like I was sitting council with Gandalf and all of Middle Earth.

There was an intimacy imparted that evening that I hadn't felt at a concert in ages. Joanna was humble, conversational, and inspiring. The pensive silence of the audience only further reflected the mood on the stage. There was a quiet reverence enveloping every person in the red velvet lined Town Hall that evening. It made it embarrassing to do anything but listen (hence the lack of images). Frankly, it was a nice change of pace for me, it forced me to zero in on the music and its core emotion rather than focusing on the "chores" I've established for myself. Besides, I feared photographing her for the sheer risk of revealing her true fae nature.

On a personal note, this woman moves me to a silent hysteria. I thought this time she wouldn't get me, well, I was wrong. I made it through 5 songs unaffected... that is until "Kingfisher". The strings, the harp, her voice it was sheer aural peace. My soul flew out of my gaping mouth, my throat swelled with emotion, and my eyes began a steady stream of tears. My cheeks were soaked by the end of the set, and all I could think was "Play On". Bless yourself with the grace of her music. Let her take you away from the ugliness of the city, and find peace in the sound.

Have One on Me
Soft as Chalk
Inflammatory Writ
The Book of Right-On
Peach, Plum, Pear
Baby Birch