The following review is and accompanying photography is from guest contributor Chris Hanson. Chris Hanson is a 3D computer graphics developer, photographer and writer with a fondness for retro technology and precise and complex music. He once reprimanded Paul O'Neill for talking during his own TSO concert.
Last night, while New Order rocked the 1stBank center, a new order of a different kind came to The Bluebird theater. Lindsey Stirling stomped into town with her non-traditional violin for a sold out show of around 650 fans of all ages and genders.
At 8:20 the opening act came on, a quirky and kinetic performance by The Vibrant Sound, performing as a one-man vocal and acoustic guitar show with a MacBook on backing. The set was short and enthusiastic, and if not fully understood by the crowd, at least they seemed to be enjoying it.
After a short break, Lindsey came on with a bang, opening up with the energetic instrumental "Moon Trance", dancing about the stage while playing the uptempo strains and gesturing with her bow for punctuation.
"Spontaneous Me" followed, giving another chance for her keyboard player and drummer to show their chops, but the attention was always on the whirling and fiddling Lindsey. Sporting torn fishnet stockings, a single argyle sock and sparkly tennis shoes, her feet were always on the move, dancing left and right, bowing and stepping.
The band ripped through "Shadows" and "Electric Daisy Violin" in short order, before Lindsey gave the drummer and keyboardist a breather and took center stage solo. A self-professed nerd, her dabblings in game themes (Zelda and Skyrim) have made her popular with the gaming crowd. With a cappella performer Peter Hollens joining in by video screen, she executed their Skyrim duet on the darkened stage.
Welcoming the rest of her band back, she cooled off with the mellow "River Flows in You (Yiruma)" before introducing Lindsey’s take on Rihanna’s “We Found Love” set to a video of her dancing and performing for and with locals in "Kenya". This is one of the few songs where Stirling contributes her own vocals, and she can definitely hold her own. Courtesy of a few tweaks to the lyrics, the attitude of the song is 180 degrees from the original, and is uplifting and hopeful.
The next number, the Lord of the Rings Medley is a mash-up of different melodies from Howard Shore’s fantastic themes from the popular movies. Stirling is obviously a fan of epic fantasy, having also covered the theme from HBO’s Game of Thrones (also with Peter Hollens), but she didn’t break out that song at The Bluebird.
Taking a turn in a whole different direction, she went "Bad", pulling on a sequined glove and sunglasses to highlight Michael Jackson in a whirlwind tour of the late artist’s musical career (or at least the parts Stirling learned to dance to as a kid). The crowd welcomed this trip to a familiar beat, clapping along.
The autobiographical and very new "Zi Zi’s Journey" (Zi Zi was a childhood nickname) followed, transitioning to the immensely popular YouTube hit "Crystallize" (featuring the music video shot here in Colorado at the Silverthorne Ice Castles). "Crystallize" was one of my introductions to dubstep, and it led me to expand my musical frontiers as a result, beyond it just being a powerful and energetic song of its own.
The final song of the main set was "Transcendence", a song with overtones (and video) about overcoming stereotypes projected by the world around in order to realize your own potential. A fitting riff to close with on the first concert tour of a self-made musician exploring her own genres.
I had intentionally not read or viewed anyone’s accounts or videos of the show in order for it to be fresh to my ears. It was therefore a genuine and welcome surprise when the band returned for the single-song encore wearing masks, and launched into a powerful rendition of The Phantom of the Opera. This song fit right in below the leering masks of the Bluebird’s own theatre decor. This was an intense note to go out on, and for the performers it must have been seven grueling minutes of going to eleven.
The merch table was offering the usual posters and stickers, and had a new offering -- Lindsey Stirling, a 12-track album released in September comprised of all-original compositions, seven of which were performed in the show. Other notable Stirling tracks (including covers and Christmas songs) are available from a smattering of sources including iTunes and her own website. iTunes also has the digital copy of the album for $12.
Stirling’s tour heads west from here to her home territories of Utah and then Arizona before heading up the West Coast. Many shows are already sold out, but additional dates and larger venues are being added. Do yourself a favor and if you’re looking for something new, fresh and beautiful, try to make it to a Lindsey Stirling show. Maybe you’ll enjoy a rocking evening of making violins exciting. Maybe like me, you’ll find whole new genres of music you want to explore (“Dubstep for 40-Year-Olds, a How-To Manual”). For my part, I’ve added a new item to my Bucket List: “Drop The Bass”.
See more pictures from this show in our Facebook photo gallery!