This 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.