Sara Bareilles - Islington Assembly Hall, London
With album sales plummeting in recent years, many acts have taken to the road to make a living, with lengthy tours the order of the day. Singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles' recent 2014 excursion may have broken a record for the shortest “World Tour” in history as it consisted of two dates, both taking place at London’s Islington Assembly Hall!
It may not have been the most lengthy of tours but I’m sure the shows would have been a lot of fun for the singer as she was playing to packed houses, delivering a set showcasing songs from her recent album The Blessed Unrest alongside her back catalogue of bobby dazzlers, performed either solo or with musicians Misty Boyce and Steve Goold.
Sara’s album was released Stateside almost a year ago but it’s only had it’s official release here recently. I’d say it was her best work as a whole to date, with a lot of songs coming from a period where the songstress made massive changes in her life, splitting with a long term partner, breaking up with the band she’d had for years and relocating to New York. It’s not a collection oozing doom and gloom though as it contains a few uplifting tracks alongside Bareilles ballads, including the now anthemic ‘Brave’ and ‘I Choose You’.
Both songs were stand outs in a truly exquisite set, especially 'I Choose You', as it's a song that's really grown on me in recent weeks. The singer mentioned at the Islington show that the track was actually written after she encountered a fan who said they wanted to use one of her songs at their wedding but couldn't find anything appropriate. I imagine she's crafted a track that will end up a few couples' "songs" in years to come anyway.
All the live renditions of tracks from the current album came across well but it was appearance of two of the "bonus songs" from the release that surprised me the most. As you may have gathered, I do have a lot of time for Miss B but hadn't come across 'Beautiful Girl' and 'Parking Lot' as they'd only been available on the US deluxe version of the album. Both songs impressed but 'Parking Lot' has no business hiding as an extra track as it's got one of the best choruses the singer's written in years!
When you have a few album's under your belt you can't please everyone when it comes to choosing your set. Sara jokingly reprimanded fans on a few occasions, telling them not to shout out songs she wasn't going to play but still managed to unveil several stonkers along the way. Single 'Uncharted' opened proceedings, swiftly followed by Little Voice's 'Love On The Rocks'. 'Love Song' from the same album also appeared early in the set, leading to the first big singalong of the evening. The crowd may have been boisterous for Sara's biggest UK hit to date but you could hear a pin drop when 'Gravity' arrived, "Song Of The Night" and a real goose bump moment!
Kaleidoscope Heart's 'King Of Everything' (complete with synchronised clapping and an audience split singing section) and the aforementioned 'Brave' finished her second Islington night, with the vocalist returning for a solo guitar led encore of 'Come Round Soon'. Monday night ticket holders may have been ready to leave on the song's completion but were granted a bonus, her version of the Elton John classic 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road', the second Elton song to appear that evening as there was a brief section of 'Benny And The Jets' played during 'Love On The Rocks'. Sara said that she hadn't played it the night before as she was trying to keep her voice, so it was a real treat to hear her powerful rendition, with the song closing her 'World Tour' with a bang!