One of the reasons why I live in a city is so I can do things like see Cyndi Lauper in concert one night and Chris Thile the next.
Cyndi is on a 30th anniversary tour for her debut solo album, She’s So Unusual. I don’t remember all of the songs on that album, but I knew the concert would be awesome regardless.
The night got off to a fun start with me and the girls meeting for a drink at a bar across the street from the venue. We “recruited” (as Deb so aptly put it) the guy sitting next to us to join us for the concert. He was able to buy a ticket in the row behind us, since we had bought the cheapest seats available in the balcony. Maybe he brought us good luck: we were thrilled when we arrived at the theater and were moved up a number of rows because the balcony wasn’t sold out.
Cyndi rocked, as I expected she would. She was clad in black leather and wore a wig of long, wavy cherry red. The woman is 60 but she danced around as if she were still 30. The night was one big ’80s dance party with lots of synthesizer.
Cyndi was gracious and told long, rambling stories about some of the songs. One of the reasons I attend concerts is to hear the musicians tell long, rambling stories. It’s great to learn the stories behind the lyrics. Sometimes the most mundane story translates to the most profound lyric.
Cyndi ended the encore with “True Colors.” My friends, and our new friend, put our arms around each other and swayed back and forth while belting the lyrics. Whenever I hear this song, I picture my 10-year-old self dancing a ballet number in a pastel purple bodysuit with a flowing pink skirt. And I marvel at how timeless some music can be. Thirty years have passed, but the music is just as moving and poignant.
Twenty-fours after rocking with Cyndi, I found myself in Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre, waiting for mandolinist Chris Thile to take the stage. This was the third time I’ve seen him perform. I first fell under his spell at a Goat Rodeo Sessions concert in January 2012. I saw him about a year later with his band, The Punch Brothers.
He is touring solo now to promote a new record of his, a Bach sonata and partita on mandolin. I was pleasantly surprised by how close my seat was to the stage. I love when that happens. I was sandwiched between a woman in her 70s with a thick accent and a college student wearing a T-shirt and shorts.
Chris walked on stage amidst thunderous applause. Without a word, he started playing the first movement of the sonata. After he finished, he explained that he would be playing some Bach, and then some “stuff” in between. The stuff was sometimes fun and sometimes hauntingly beautiful.
In the middle of the show, he played a Bach movement for possibly 30 minutes straight. It started to feel surreal, as I asked myself, is he still really playing??
Talk about music that is timeless. Three hundred years later and the music is still stunning. After his Bach marathon, Chris launched into a song he wrote, the chorus of which was “If you’re going to leave me, set me up with one of your friends.” Who can pull that off?
Chris Thile can.
To sum it up, he blew the mind of everyone there. The woman to my left looked awestruck every time I caught her in my peripheral vision. I giggled to myself as the kid next to me fist pumped when Chris starting playing his “stuff.” I think he was even singing along at times.
The man can tear it up on the mandolin. Plus he has an amazing voice with quite a range. And he can charm the pants off any audience. Add him to my list of musicians whom I would consider following around the country if I were independently wealthy and didn’t have to hold down a job. I think I’ve missed my calling as a music groupie…