Matt Alber at Hotel Utah

On Friday night Thom and I went to see Matt Alber sing at the Hotel Utah. He looked and sounded great. We fell in love with his music back when his video for “End of the World” came out, with its unabashedly gay romance. (In 2009 when Thom and I had our wedding, we put his song “Walk with Me” on the CD favors.)

Matt Alber

He sang a bunch of songs from his CD Hide Nothing, including “Monarch,” “Field-trip Buddy,” “Walk with Me,” and “Rivers and Tides,” as well as other songs, both his own, like “The River,” and others’, like “Take a Bow” and a slow, soulful “Walking on Sunshine.” The Hotel Utah is a very small venue, and so it was packed and “sweaty” (his words) in there, but it was nice to see him in such an intimate space and hear him sing with just guitar or piano. He says he’s coming back to San Francisco this fall (Cafe du Nord next time), with a new CD, so I’m looking forward to seeing him again. Do check him out for heartfelt music and a voice you just want to curl up in.

Here’s the video for “End of the World,” which he sang and dedicated to his father for all his help and support:

Update: Matt Alber’s show at Joe’s Pub in New York on Monday, June 6 was webcast live and the video is now available online:

Idina Menzel with SF Symphony

Last night we went to see Idina Menzel with the San Francisco Symphony, and she was amazing. So funny, so charming, and of course what a voice! Here is the setlist:

Overture from Girl Crazy [symphony]

The Life of the Party (The Wild Party)
I’m Not That Girl (Wicked)
Love for Sale (The New Yorkers) / Roxanne
Funny Girl (Funny Girl)
No Day But Today (Rent)
Poker Face

Comedy Tonight (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) [symphony]
Send in the Clowns (A Little Night Music) [symphony]

Gorgeous
Embraceable You (Girl Crazy)
Good Morning, Walker / I Feel So Smoochie
Look to the Rainbow (Finian’s Rainbow)
For Good (Wicked)
Defying Gravity (Wicked)

Tomorrow (Annie)

I wish I had brought my good camera with me, ’cause after the encore and during the several loud, cheering ovations it was a free-for-all with everyone’s cameras out. But we were sitting in the front row, dead center, so I can’t complain. When she sang “For Good,” unmiked and a cappella, it was like she was singing directly to us. Loved it. (I did have this fantasy that hubby Taye Diggs would show up and sit next to us, but he was at home in New York with their baby, Walker. Aww.)

In any case, I did just find a photo on Flickr (credit: T.J. DeGroat), and you can sort of make out me and Thom–we’re in the front row, towards the left of the picture, in the light shirts!

Idina Menzel @ Davies Hall

And there’s more! Here’s a YouTube video I found of “Poker Face,” where you can see us through the little square formed by the railings:

Idina’s tour continues on July 17 at Wolf Trap, and she’s coming back to California (Orange County) later this year.

Audra McDonald with SF Symphony

On Monday night we saw Audra McDonald sing with the San Francisco Symphony, and she was amazing, as usual. This isn’t a full-fledged review, but let’s just say the whole time she had me in a wonderful dreamy haze (alternating with cheering wildly). We had front-row center seats, so it was like she was singing just for us. Here’s her song list; it wasn’t listed in the program, so this is not necessarily complete or in order, only as Thom and I remembered them:

Gorgeous (The Apple Tree)
I Have Confidence (The Sound of Music)
It Might As Well Be Spring (State Fair) / Hurry, It’s Lovely Up Here (On a Clear Day You Can See Forever)
Will He Like Me? (She Loves Me)
Can’t Stop Talking (Let’s Dance)
Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe (Cabin in the Sky)
The Glamorous Life (A Little Night Music)
There Won’t Be Trumpets (Anyone Can Whistle)

Ribbons Down My Back (Hello, Dolly!)
Pure Imagination (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory)
A Little Bit in Love (Wonderful Town)
I Wish I Were in Love Again (Babes in Arms)
Dividing Day (The Light in the Piazza)
Moon River (Breakfast at Tiffany’s)
Old Maid (110 in the Shade)
I Could Have Danced All Night (My Fair Lady)
What Can You Lose? (Dick Tracy) / Not A Day Goes By (Merrily We Roll Along)
When Did I Fall in Love? (Fiorello!)

10,432 Sheep (The West Point Story)
Edelweiss (The Sound of Music)
Ain’t It the Truth? (Cabin in the Sky)

A few more notes:

  • The symphony also played The Carousel Waltz as a sort of entr’acte after the intermission.
  • Audra made good on her tweet in which she promised to sing the name of that Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, on a high A-flat. I can’t vouch for pronunciation, but it sure sounded pretty!
  • She told us that when she was a little girl, she auditioned with the song “Edelweiss” with her father accompanying her. (He died three years ago.) Last night she sang it unmiked, accompanied by guitar and violin. So beautiful and poignant.

For Audra’s appearances on PBS singing some of these and other songs, check out AudraMcDonaldFan‘s channel on YouTube.

We’re excited for a couple of upcoming “Summer and the Symphony” concerts: Pink Martini (we’re seeing them on June 2) and Idina Menzel (July 9). Ha, I guess it shows how little I blog anymore: my post about last year’s Pink Martini concert is still here on the home page!

Pink Martini with SF Symphony

A couple of weeks ago we saw Pink Martini with the San Francisco Symphony, and as expected they were amazing. We’d seen them here with the symphony in 2007, but this time I was on the ball when tickets went on sale, so we were sitting in the second row. It was great! And we ran into our friends Richard and Dennis at intermission, which was one of those “small-town San Francisco” moments.

Here’s the song list, as printed in the program:

Quizás quizás quizás (Farrés)
Tempo Perdido (Alves)
Sympathique (Forbes / Lauderdale)
Ebben? No andro lontana (Catalani)
Uskudar (Traditional)
Adagio from Concerto in F (Gershwin)
Pièce en forme d’Habanera (Boléro) (Ravel / Leyden)
¿Dónde Estás, Yolanda? (Jimenez)
Malagueña (Lecuona)

Splendor in the Grass (Marashian / Lauderdale)
Andalucia (Lecuona)
Sway (Gimbel / Ruiz)
Autrefois (Forbes / Lauderdale)
Praeludium and Allegro (Kreisler / Taylor)
The Flying Squirrel (Taylor / Lauderdale)
Amado Mio (Fisher / Roberts)
Il fox trot delle gigolettes (Lehár)
Carioca (Youmans / Eliscu / Kahn)
Aspettami (Forbes / Lauderdale)

For the encores, they did “What’ll I Do?” (Berlin) and “Brazil” (Barroso), and we joined in the conga line that went around the hall, led by bandleader Thomas Lauderdale. Fun!

After the concert, Thom and I went to Absinthe for a late dinner, and who should we see at the table across from us but Cloris Leachman! Apparently she was in town for the Pride parade the next day, in which she was one of the grand marshalls. (Here is Thom’s dark and surreptitious photo from over his shoulder.) On our way out Thom said hello to her as we passed her table, which turned into a conversation about the food, and then her manager (whom we later found out is one of her sons, I think?) started asking us what the local buzz was, if any, surrounding Cloris and her participation in Pride, so suddenly we were the voice of the LGBT community, heh.

And as we left the restaurant, we ran into Thomas Lauderdale, who was on his way in. I guess it was the place to be after the show.

By the way, Pink Martini will be back in the Bay Area later this year (tour schedule): Santa Rosa on October 1, and Mountain Winery on October 2.

Flight of the Conchords in Berkeley

Last week on Memorial Day we went to see our favorite (or the only?) comedy band from New Zealand, Flight of the Conchords, and it was fantastic. The concert, at the Berkeley Community Theatre, started late because apparently there were problems with fire alarms in a nearby building, but once that was settled, it was a solid couple hours of hilarity. Arj Barker opened with a great stand-up routine, and we’re definitely going to try and see him when he comes to Cobb’s in July.

Here’s the set list from the concert, in order:

Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor
Hurt Feelings
Stana
The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room)
Robots
Jenny
I Told You I Was Freekie
I’m Not Crying
Mutha’uckas
Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros
Foux du Fafa
Bowie
Sugalumps
Tour Guide
Business Time

“We’re Both in Love with a Sexy Lady” goes in there somewhere, but I forget exactly where. I was taking notes on my phone and was probably overtaken by the aforementioned hilarity.

See also the Bay Guardian music blog for some photos.

Duncan at the Palace of Fine Arts

Duncan Sheik‘s concert at the Palace of Fine Arts last Saturday was awesome. We had perfect seats in the front row, center, so it was like he was singing just for us. His band opened, including Lauren Pritchard (the original Ilse in Spring Awakening), Holly Brook, Louis Schwadron, and Ben Kalb. Duncan’s set consisted mostly of songs from Spring Awakening and his new show, Whisper House, and also included songs from Daylight (“For You,” “Such Reveries,” “On a High”) and one of the old favorites, “She Runs Away.”

The songs from Daylight really take me back to when I used to live in Washington, D.C. I bought that CD soon after it came out in 2002. I still had an old discman (remember those?) and would keep any given CD in there forever and play it over and over again on my work commute. I listened to Duncan a lot then. We last saw him in concert in Virginia at the Birchmere in 2005.

I didn’t take any pictures from last Saturday’s concert, but here’s a set I found on Flickr, which may in fact be from the folks sitting next to us at the show.

Pink Martini

On Saturday Thom and I had dinner at Trader Vic’s (the downtown San Francisco location), which was fun. We both love tiki, as you know. I think we had expected the Trader Vic’s experience to rely almost solely on the kitschy atmosphere, but we were a little surprised but of course pleased to find that the food and service were really good as well.

Tiki Thom Cheers! (2)

The main event of the evening was Pink Martini with the San Francisco Symphony! Pink Martini has been around for a while, of course, but I can’t believe I’m only just now getting into their music. I love them. It’s hard to describe their music, so I’ll leave it to what bandleader Thomas Lauderdale has said: “Pink Martini is like a romantic Hollywood musical of the 1940s or 50s — but with a global perspective which is modern. We bring melodies and rhythms from different parts of the world together to create something which is new and beautiful.” That they do. And China Forbes, their vocalist, has a sultry voice to die for. I totally need to get their CDs. They have three out so far, and their latest one (Hey Eugene!) was released in May.

By the way, one of their encore pieces was an instrumental (violin and piano) arrangement of an old Filipino song, “Bayan Ko” (“My country”). I vaguely remember the melody; my grandparents and parents sometimes sang it at parties with their townmates, where they’d sing old Tagalog songs around the piano. I always thought it was a bit corny, but I finally looked up the history and lyrics. Apparently it was written in the 1920s as a protest song during the American occupation of the Philippines, and has been a sort of anthem in every struggle since. I’ve been browsing for clips on the web just now, and not to sound like an old manong, but it makes me all misty-eyed to hear it again. Heh.

Pink Martini performs songs in several languages; I think they should take on some Tagalog! It would sound great.

» See also NPR’s recent two-part interview on Morning Edition.