I attempted to post a reply last night when I got home, but when I hit the “Submit Reply” button it seemed like the forum went off into la-la land, so I lost it. I really wish this forum software had an auto-save feature like the old one.
We had a very quick but very strong line of thunderstorms about two hours before show start last night, so when we got to the theater I had the presence of mind to go to the box office to see if there were any cancellations in orchestra center. Sure enough there was. We went from off to the side in Row R to almost dead center in Row J. Things were getting off to a great start.
The show was… how do I put this? Worth seeing for Melody Gardot’s musical talent, but maddening because of the poor technical quality. There were too many problems for it to be an accident. The first problem was that Melody Gardot’s voice level was set lower than anything else, so that it sounded reasonable only when she was doing solo or at best had one accompanying guitar. Once two or more instrument joined in her voice level was completely swamped by everything else that was set way louder than her. Even with that, whatever mic and amp string they used for her was for cr@p - her voice sounded like a combination of coming out of a cave and through a pillow at the same time. Completely indecipherable, and I don’t think it’s because of her. She has a ton of power in her projection, and they clearly know how to have her voice come off clearly and with articulation on CD.
It just gets worse. The drum levels were potted out to the max. When the drummer was laying out a line with the bass drum it drowned out literally everything else, even the three horn players who looked like they were all about to burst their spleens with how hard they were blowing. Which leads to… the whole thing was shockingly louder than I expected. Gardot’s CDs are generally very well recorded, so I would have expected the same sort of balanced, articulate sound at the show (Rhiannon Giddens are her band and crew seem to know how to do this) - but beyond that most of her music is not what I would call amp-pounding. I didn’t expect to walk in and have even solo tunes raised to the level of hard rock. I was curious so I pulled out my iPhone that is loaded with an SPL app and checked; the performance was often pushing 99+ dB, which some might consider as not loud for a show, but it’s not healthy. Shame on me for not bringing my earplugs, which I usually do but figured this time wouldn’t be needed. My ears are still ringing.
I guess I’m not sorry I went. She’s a great talent and I was happy to be able to see her live, since she tours so infrequently (and even less so in the U.S.). But in this case, IMO at least, fans of hers should enjoy her more either solo in a small club or with her tunes playing through a good home system.
My original post that got lost in the electrons was a better read.