Been super busy these last couple of months with work, social activities, and shows. It’s exhausting but I’m grateful that I’m able to enjoy it all much more now. In the last month, I went to two completely opposite shows: Michael Feinstein with Cheyenne Jackson, and the Indigo Girls. Both I’d never heard live and didn’t really know much of their stuff, yet I was able to immensely enjoy myself anyway.
Michael is a long-standing champion of American Songbook – songs by American composers that have reached “standard” status. Often performed by people like Frank Sinatra or Cole Porter. While I’ve heard a lot of these songs, and even sung a few, I don’t know them intimately and every performance of them is generally a unique arrangement. Add a full jazz horn section and the sound could end up very muddled…but it wasn’t too bad. The Palladium at the Center for Performing Arts in Carmel, IN, is a stunning venue, not only for it’s looks, but because it was designed for optimal acoustics. I’ve been there several times since they opened in 2010, but this was only my second time since getting the CI (my first was Alan Cumming, which I blogged about back in December). I was absolutely floored at how great the sound quality was. Honestly, Michael doesn’t have the most interesting voice (although he has amazing technique) in my opinion, but Cheyenne, a Tony-certified Broadway star, is killer. Everything was perfectly balanced – I couldn’t hear one instrument or voice louder than any other, and I could even understand them speaking perfectly. My only complaint would be that sometimes the arrangements were too complex, which did make it difficult to follow. The best number of the evening was when Michael played piano and Cheyenne sang “Someone to Watch Over Me”. So simple and so beautiful. And one of my all-time favorites to sing. Watch their rehearsal here:
My friend Tony, also hearing impaired and has worn hearing aids since he was very young, went with me to both of these shows. He is a big fan of Cheyenne and had talked me into going. I’m so glad I did. Tony also had the same reaction I did, being so super impressed with the sound quality of the show. Also like me, he’d never seen the Indigo Girls live before.
For both shows, I ended up in nearly an identical seat in the second row, even though the venues were completely different. The Indigo Girls played the Egyptian Room at the Old National Centre in downtown Indianapolis. I’ve seen many shows at the Murat Theatre there, but never one in this smaller open space. My friend Anne came up from Bloomington to see this show, and she’d scored us these simply amazing tickets – I can’t imagine what it would have sounded like from elsewhere in the room.
First of all, I was really impressed with their opening act, Dom Kelly. I was not expecting to be able to walk in a show like this and be able to distinguish instruments, much less understand words to songs I’ve never heard before. And let me tell you, they are killer songs. He’s a perfect match for the Indigo Girls – brilliant on their part to bring him on this tour. I hope I can see him again soon.
Tony and I talked during the break about how we both were amazed at the sound quality we were hearing – we were in the second row, just off center and right in front of a speaker. It was a little bit loud for me, so I turned my music program down 3 notches (I’ve been wearing my normal programs down 2 lately for some reason – everything is just so loud!). Then the main event – the Indigo Girls. I knew some of their older songs from the 90s from before my hearing loss, but I didn’t know anything past that. It was so amazing once again – they had a violin player with them and I was able to hear that in addition to each guitar. And their voices, wow, I had forgotten what good singers they were. But like I could back in the 90s, I could very distinctly follow the two vocal parts. I can’t remember the last time I was able to do that with voices I don’t know really well on songs I don’t know at all.
The coolest moment for me tho was the moments when Amy & Emily stopped singing and let the crowd sing their parts…and I could understand the words! Indy women, you all sound amazing!
After the show, Tony mentioned he felt like he was speaking very loud because his ears were ringing. Mine were too, even the CI / dead ear. I told him that I remember that from being a hearing person, and it’s not unique to us. It’s weird that it happens to us, but it definitely happened as a hearing person too. I suspect it was from being right in front of the speaker, but I’ve had it happen at just about every arena show I’ve ever been to in my life.
Every day, every show I see, I’m learning something new and I’m hearing something new. Some days are still a horrible challenge, especially when I’m tired or sick, but most days are close to fine.