On the day my oldest nephew turned ten, my husband and I saw Sade in concert at the Staples Center. Sade was last in Los Angeles ten years ago when she played at the Hollywood Bowl, and we attended that concert too.
I’m not, in any way, a big concert person. All those people in a confined place make me nervous. The alcohol. The noise. The women who look like they forgot to put on the rest of their clothes. The expense (ten dollars for popcorn and an icee).
Nevertheless, this Sade concert was ... (Here a long pause, as I contemplate the proper word. Mesmerizing. Astounding. Incredible).
Usually, listening to music is a personaI experience for me, as I listen in the car or in my home. All of a sudden, a woman takes the stage and the thousands in attendance become united in the pleasure they receive from the music.
I felt the music - in my chest, in my seat. Maybe that’s why I was intrigued by the sign language interpreters I saw working during the concert. The interpreters alternately took turns, translating the lyrics of each song. But, the songs played at a live concert transcend the lyrics.
A live concert is really about so much more than just listening to the music. You see the music through the colors, the lights, the costumes, the displays on the curtains that drape down over the stage. It is a way to experience familiar songs in a new way. Music is the show and is intercepted through all the senses. At home, music is usually in the background, while I’m cooking or cleaning or writing. There is no “music in the background” at a live concert. Music is front and center.
Attending the concert also allowed me the opportunity to observe the instruments that contribute to the sound of a particular song. I saw a background singer play the flute and another band member play an instrument reminiscent of my mom’s windchimes. And together, these bandmates, these instruments, and these vocals create the songs that mean so much to my husband and I.
I might have been familiar with the sound of some of my favorites, “All About Our Love” and “By Your Side,” but Saturday night I witnessed these songs anew.