Cleveland Concert Review

screenshot_2016-10-10-09-30-56This past Saturday (October 8th, 2016), I had the pleasure of attending another Jackie Evancho concert at Cleveland Playhouse Square Ohio Theater.  This would be my 9th Jackie concert to date.  I had also attended Jackie’s performance at Cleveland Playhouse Square Palace Theater back in 2013 when she was 13 years old.  I was very happy that the now 16 year old Jackie came back to Playhouse Square for another concert since this is very close to home for me.  The entire Playhouse Square performing arts district in Cleveland is a wonderful collection of theaters and is the largest performing arts center outside of New York City (as is claimed on the Playhouse Square Wikipedia page).  The Ohio Theater is a beautiful venue and I was told by the staff that it had just recently been renovated this past year (2016).  It is a smaller theater compared to the Palace.  Ohio theater has a capacity of 1000 seats compared to the Palace at roughly around 2700 seats.  My wife and I had 3rd row seats in the Center Orchestra section of the theater.  This has always been one of my favorite places to sit for a Jackie concert.  Unfortunately there was no photography or video recording permitted for this concert so I do not have any media to share in that regard.

One of the first things that I noticed regarding this concert was that there wasn’t a live orchestra present to accompany Jackie.  Instead, the stage was set with a piano, assorted candles and various flower bouquets coupled with subdued lighting.  I could tell that this was going to be a different experience from other Jackie concerts I have attended.  The last time I saw Jackie perform was in 2015 at Pittsburgh.  The entire Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra was there to accompany her at that concert, so it was a stark contrast to see the stage set in a very minimalistic way with no orchestra for the Cleveland concert.  Although Jackie is more than capable of singing amazingly no matter who is accompanying her, I have to admit that I was hoping to see her perform with orchestra again.  There is a certain grandeur to see Jackie as the feature artist with an orchestra.  I must say that I did miss that.  For this concert, Jackie would be accompanied solely by her music director Peter Kiesewalter.  Peter uses an array of computer-managed backing tracks with his piano playing to provided the accompaniment for Jackie.  It is an interesting setup and I often wonder how it is all coordinated.  It does work well, but I think there is something amiss to not have a contingency of live musicians as the source of the accompaniment.  After-all, that is the reason it is called a live show.  But, one can say that Jackie is the main attraction and the absence of a live orchestral accompaniment puts the focus more on her.  The backing-track sound system gives the effect of live accompaniment and Peter does a great job coordinating his playing with Jackie and the backing-tracks.  I can’t say that I am completely in favor of this new setup, but it was still a treat to be able to see Jackie perform live.

There was one aspect of the concert that was a disappointment for me.  Considering that the Ohio Theater is a 1000 seat venue, I would estimate that there was probably only around three to four hundred in attendance.  This was probably one of the lowest-attended Jackie concerts I have ever been to.  It was heartbreaking to see such a small crowd show up for such a talented singer like Jackie.  I don’t know if something went awry with the promotion of this concert, but I can’t fathom why more people wouldn’t show up to hear Jackie sing.  Maybe the recognition of her accomplishment on AGT has faded from the memories of the people who once attended her concerts in the past.  Or maybe the novelty of seeing a younger Jackie was more of a draw than an older teenage Jackie.  I don’t think any reason is good enough, because hearing Jackie live in concert is an amazing experience and is still well worth the price of admission, no matter what her age.  Her voice is more powerful and more beautiful than ever!  She is still a phenomenon who sings well above her age of 16!  Her voice is so captivating and it is always a pleasure to witness how she soars over notes using such expressiveness that tugs at my emotions.  Sure, there are some differences in Jackie’s current concerts compared to the past…. Gone is the little girl who would playfully twirl, skip, and giggle while on stage; Gone is the splendor of seeing s small child commanding the respect of a full orchestra.  Young girls eventually grow up and Jackie is certainly no different.  She has now grown up into a beautiful young adult with poise and professionalism that is beyond her teenage years.  Jackie still has some playful banter with the audience, but on a different maturity level from when she was younger.  She knows how to reach her audience in a personal and humbly profound way.  Time moves on and Jackie moves along with it.  Each phase of her life will bring another new dynamic to the experience of following her career and I feel blessed to be able to witness a part of her journey through life these past 6 years and beyond.

The music Jackie performed  consisted of many of the songs that she has sung in the past on her CDs titled Dream With Me, Songs From The Silver Screen, and Awakening.  Jackie also sang some new songs that were recorded this past summer and shared with fans via music videos on YouTube.  Although Jackie released a total of five new music videos this past year, she only performed two of the new songs from those videos at the concert.  This included Safe and Sound and Writings On The Wall.  The new songs that were absent from the set-list were All of The Stars, Apocalypse, and Coming Home.  I was really hoping to hear Jackie perform the song Apocalypse because it was an original song that was written just for her and it is very well done.  I am not quite sure why it wasn’t included on the program.  However, Jackie did perform a couple of new songs from her upcoming CD (soon to be released in the early part of 2017) that I had never heard before, so it was a treat to get a sneak peek at these songs.  The two new songs that she sung were a cover of Coldplay’s “Fix You” and a new original song titled “Think About Me.”   Although I don’t really care for the original Coldplay version of “Fix You,”  I really liked Jackie’s version of the song.  It isn’t unusual for Jackie to take an existing song and make it better with her exquisite vocals and her musical interpretation of the song.  The song “Think About Me” was very good too, but I think “Fix You” was more of my favorite.  Of course it was certainly wonderful to hear Jackie perform all of her past CD songs too.  There are so many great songs from her CD repertoire that it is hard to pick favorites.  However, for the first time, I got the chance to experience Jackie performing a very special song that is near and dear to me, and that is “Nessun Dorma.”  This song started me becoming a fan when I first saw the recording on YouTube of Jackie singing it for her PBS Great Performances special back in 2011.  I was so captivated at how she sang this song that I was moved to tears (as is the case with many of Jackie’s songs).  I described this in detail on my very first blog entry titled Why Do I Admire Jackie Evancho.  So, it was a huge treat for me to finally get to hear Jackie sing Nessun Dorma live.  Her performance of it was magnificent!

The entire experience of being at a Jackie Evancho concert is one-of-a-kind and it is always something that I will cherish each time I am fortunate to be able to attend.  This concert was no different in that regard.   I have said this before, but it can’t be said enough.  If you ever have the opportunity to see Jackie Evancho perform live in concert, do not pass it up!  She is enchanting, charming, and has a voice that will melt your heart.  Be sure to visit Jackie’s YouTube Channel and official website to find out more about her.

17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Steven Carter
    Oct 10, 2016 @ 16:13:27

    Thanks Varn for the review on Jackie’s recent concert in Cleveland. Its such a privilege to see her. As you said all things change but one thing remains constant and that’s Jackie’s ability to mesmerize her audience and especially her fans. I think Jackie is under promoted accounting for the lowering of her attendance figures. Its possible too that her parents are limiting her exposure while she completes her schooling. The whole entertainment world is so manipulated. May Jackie forever be insulated from its darker aspects.

    I too was fortunate also that at her last concert in Denver at Boettcher Concert Hall she sang Nessun Dorma. She mentioned that so many of her fans had requested it that she was once again adding it to her concert song list. It was a “bucket list” check off to hear her sing this classical opera piece live and she did with clarity, power and grace that brought myself and the audience to its feet with cheers of bravo and tears to many. Watching Jackie grow and mature since her AGT days has been a real pleasure. Her natural beautiful grows more awesome each time I see her. As Jackie’s voice continues to mature we will all be in for new and exciting experiences as she expands the music she performs. Am looking forward to seeing her again soon. 🙂


    • James Gifford
      Oct 10, 2016 @ 20:49:12

      The ticket prices were slightly above what would be considered ‘normal’. The lack of a dynamic full orchestra may have also affected the lack of a full house, which Jackie certainly deserves. I have seen her 25 times and have never been disappointed, as I have played in some of the same arena’s with perfect acoustics. People forget her performance is very intimate in such a Music Hall! In the future I see Jackie with a full orchestra and plugged in as well for the more powerful popular music. I missed this show, but you and your experience made it come alive! It is no different asking Neil Diamond to perform as he has for decades with at least his band and a string section- and I suppose people have been so spoiled by Jackie that they demand the same. I think that speaks volumes, and she will never disappoint in any setting. Speaking of neil, I wish Jackie would add some of his early-seventies music to her performances. 🙂


  2. jack
    Oct 10, 2016 @ 16:41:01

    Thanks Ken for the wonderful review! I agree that many in the city of Cleveland missed out on the best way to spend a Saturday night ever, seeing Jackie LIVE! I’m afraid as you mentioned that very few people even knew she was there, due to such limited promotion. There wasn’t even a flyer or sign on the wall anywhere at Playhouse Square showing that Jackie was there! Such a shame! One more note, her new song is actually called ” Think About Me “. It was great to see you and your lovely wife once again, and will look forward to the next time! All my best to you! Jack Buckeye


  3. April Breyman
    Oct 10, 2016 @ 17:41:26

    I finally got to see Jackie in Cleveland. I’ve been a big fan of hers since America’s Got Talent. I was mesmerized through the whole concert. Her voice is phenomenal. Her CD’S and videos don’t do her justice. They are just a tease compared to the real thing. She’s very enchanting to watch. She’s poised and graceful. She also has a great sense of humor. If I could afford it, I would go anywhere to see her perform. She’s is the real deal. It is my hope that she is able to do this for a long, long time.


  4. Alec Ludlow
    Oct 10, 2016 @ 18:15:30

    Thank you Ken for your positive review. Although videoing wasn’t allowed in Cleveland, some snippets have emerged from the concerts on the two previous nights at St. Charles and Merrillville. Its clear that Jackie’s talent shines just as brightly as ever. I was shocked however by reports such as yours on the attendance numbers.
    Its 5 years since Jackie blessed us with an appearance in the UK. This of course was for her fabulous performance of Nessun Dorma on Britain’s Got Talent. Aside from a few of us die-hards this side of the Atlantic though, this will have faded from the public’s memory. Should Jackie appear here once more, she would in effect be starting again. However I’m sure that even I could drum up more than three or four hundred attendees single handed!
    There seems to be virtually zero advanced promotion for her concerts lately. Steven Carter in his reply (above) make the point that possibly “her parents are limiting her exposure while she completes her schooling”. I firmly believe Jackie and her family are doing a great job in juggling with the balance between education and career. However, tiny attendances such as in Cleveland will not be cost effective surely? Fewer but vastly better promoted events should be better financially and demand less of her time away from school?

    What do I know? I’m just a fan, but it concerns me to see Jackie’s talent compromised like this. I’m trying to find positives since she deserves nothing less, from us fans to whom she has given so much.

    Bless her.



    • bob johnson
      Nov 26, 2016 @ 22:26:09

      The attendance for her outdoor italian festival concert in Milwaukee this past July and the concert in st Charles that I attended also had low attendence especially Milwaukee, I felt bad, although I just attended her concert in red Bank NJ Friday Nov.25th and attendance was presentable but could’ve been better for sure!!


  5. Everett Cox
    Oct 10, 2016 @ 18:30:28

    Great review Ken!! It’s a crime that TE cannot get off their butts and promote the most beautiful voice in the world. Jackie needs to make some changes on her team.


  6. Anonymous
    Oct 10, 2016 @ 19:00:59

    Fantastic revview Ken – you covered it all. It is a real shame about the attendance. People are missing out on an experience which memories are made of.


  7. Roger Phillips
    Oct 10, 2016 @ 20:52:28

    Thank you so much for your review, Ken. I was not fortunate enough to be there, so reviews like yours help me capture some of the emotion otherwise missed. So far, I have been to six of Jackie’s concerts. and have tickets for three concerts of this new tour. I love all of Jackie’s music. In my eyes, Jackie is a diamond with many facets, and they all sparkle !!!


  8. ChuckandPaula Brown
    Oct 10, 2016 @ 21:50:56

    Ken, thanks so much for your amazing report. Jackie has mesmerized us for 6 years and will continue to do so ad infinitum. We cannot wait to see her in concert in February. Nessun Dorma and that high note at the end? Jackie is a determined young lady. She will attempt a genre and is spot on in her rendition. Can’t wait to hear the new songs. As Jackie says, “Amazing!”


  9. Anonymous
    Oct 12, 2016 @ 09:48:56

    Small numbers can be a fall back from her sister Juliet , it will hurt her in sales as that is how the world is


    • VarnK
      Oct 12, 2016 @ 10:30:58

      I don’t really think that is the primary issue although it may have some minimal impact. Most casual fans don’t know about the personal affairs of celebrities. I still believe that the small numbers are because Jackie is no longer in the spotlight as much as she was when AGT was fresh in the minds of people.


  10. Anonymous
    Nov 26, 2016 @ 22:19:23

    Hello my name is Bob, I went to the Milwaukee italian festival out door concert this past July which was a cool experience,also went to st.charles and this cleveland concert and I too was disappointed on attendence, Milwaukee had the lowest attendence out of the three, I would say it was only about a quarter filled!! I went to her concert in red Bank NJ at the count Basie theater and the attendence was a little better with about a little over half the seats filled!


    • VarnK
      Nov 26, 2016 @ 22:36:03

      Thanks for providing insight into the Red Bank concert. Glad to hear that Jackie had better attendance at this concert. Maybe there was better promotion for the Red Bank concert. Also, the holiday music may have helped draw more people too.


  11. Barbara Carol Harris
    Jun 15, 2018 @ 00:15:53

    And to think I saw the truly great Mary Martin and Carol Channing in that theater! How times have changed! Btw, why is it tragic the theater wasn’t filled for JE? It was filled for Martin and Channing, that’s for sure.


    • VarnK
      Jun 15, 2018 @ 19:59:46

      It was filled to capacity the first time Jackie appeared there. I don’t know why it wasn’t the second time. Bad timing maybe?


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