“BEST LIVE PERFORMER EVER!” Those were the simple but straight-to-the-point words yelled out by one overly enthusiastic fan as Sara Bareilles paused during another round of banter, which she acknowledged. Is she, really? Whether or not she’s THE best is an opinion, but with her soulful lyrics, unbelievable vocal prowess and range, her very well-rounded musicality, and gift for gab, it’s just a fact that this is one artist that can really put on a worthwhile show.
Bareilles performed to a sold-out crowd at The Warfield in San Francisco, CA on Dec. 16, a late addition to her fall tour in support of her major-label sophomore album Kaleidoscope Heart. She made a brief appearance prior to singing, to introduce the show and her opening band, Raining Jane (More on how fabulous they were later!). But from that point on, the audience thrived on both musical energy and merely energy-energy. She opened the show with “Vegas” off of her major-label debut Little Voice before looping into “Uncharted” (My absolute favorite from the new record). Then came a bit of small talk and dorky dancing before unveiling a short, uncensored surprise cover of Cee-Lo’s “F*** You,” much to the crowd’s delight, which segued into “Gonna Get Over You.” Known for accompanying herself on the piano, Bareilles also showcased her guitar and accordion talent on a couple of songs. Of course, the set list would not be complete without the singer-songwriter performing her most well-known tunes, including “Love Song,” “Bottle it Up,” “King of Anything,” and the heartbreaking “Gravity.” Her encore consisted of her accordion-playing and very impressive falsetto on the latest record’s prelude/title track and “Many the Miles.”
Despite her immense talent to carry a great show all on her own, Bareilles did not—she was gracious enough to share the stage with her [good-looking all-man—think cuter versions of the four lead guys from The Hangover] band doing back-up vocals and Raining Jane on the Radiohead cover “Nice Dream.” She allowed the crowd to accompany her with organized clap and snap-alongs on a few songs, and took away from the mic to listen to all fill in the words to “Love Song” and “Gravity.” The fun times became a joint effort.
As if Bareilles wasn’t wonderful enough, the opener Raining Jane became a new favorite band of mine. Never had I been so immersed in a support act that I had never heard of before. The female eclectic rock band, who have personal connections with Bareilles and have performed a few shows with her before she became a widely-known act, served as the perfect complement to her musical style. Playing with different percussion and instruments such as the cello and xylophone and with two distinct lead vocalists, their sound is unique and captivating, almost out-of-this-world. They do share with Bareilles a knack for lovely lyrics and adorable candidness (“Tonight, love isn’t a battlefield, it’s a WARFIELD!” joked percussionist Mona Tavakoli after their stunning Pat Benatar cover).
It was an evening that showcased effortless performance from the opener, the band, and the headliner alike, and that music can be heartfelt and jump-start a party at the same time. Yup, Sara B. and those girls and guys made love a warfield.