Friday, April 23, 2010

Young@Heart @St. Ann's Warehouse, Apr. 22nd

The other day, Bestest Boy received a call from Karen Violista with some great news: thanks to the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull and its travel-impeding eruption, she was asked to sub in this week for the trapped-in-Europe violinist in the band that accompanies the Young at Heart Chorus at St. Ann's Warehouse in nearby Dumbo, and as a perk, she could hook us up with some comps. Although I see more concerts than the average person, I cannot express how excited I was to see this particular gig, and rightly so.

(More words and a pic after the jump.)

Bestest Boy and I happened to catch the 2008 documentary on this group a few months ago on PBS as counter-programming to "American Idol." We loved it but wondered if the live rendition would be as entertaining without the excellent back story lines that the documentary deftly wove in between scenes of difficult rehearsals and subsequent successes. Would such a live performance resonate with an audience beyond the initial gimmick of senior citizens, aged 73-90, singing contemporary songs? I am delighted to report yes, and go get your tickets NOW! (Click here for 15% off.)

Even if you haven't seen the documentary (which I recommend), you'd have to be a robot not to be uplifted by Young@Heart. They are a beautiful group of some natural and not-so-natural singers, some not so mobile, others able to boogie down, who let their collective joie de vivre shine through in the music selections, which I have to say, really, really amused me. They started off the show with traditional songs from the earlier half of the 20th century, but then seemed to take my iPod and run with it, including songs by The Buzzcocks, Blondie, The Magnetic Fields, Wilco, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, The Pixies and Nick Cave, just to name a few. I won't reveal the setlist because it should be something for you to enjoy, but for me personally, the highlight was the Bon Jovi into Morrissey segue. To see a stage full of elders passionately singing "It's My Life" gave the usually dismissible Garden State rockers' music new life -- I actually teared up hearing their rallying cry. And following it with a Moz classic, "Sing Your Life," made it all too stirring.

And that is probably what this very special group is all about: giving lyrics a deeper meaning and poignancy when sung from the perspectives of those who have indeed lived life, and rich and varied lives at that. Their shining and warbling voices really forced me to pay attention to songs that might come up unnoticed on shuffle on my iPod while riding the subway, working out, or just plain old working.

At times, I found myself mentally comparing the show with the saccharine television show, "Glee," which I'll admit is a guilty pleasure. Both definitely portray the sheer joy of song, but Young@Heart is the real deal, without the glossiness or cringe worthy moments that often accompany "Glee."
Young@Heart is a triumphant celebration of life that had me singing along for most of the 75 minutes, and with a big silly grin stretched across my face from ear to ear. Truly inspired!

1 comment:

peter said...

Hey, loved reading your post on Y@H. Was there last night.

For those who were there and loved the show, can you post the set list- somewhere? Some of those songs, as great as they were, escaped me, and I want to find the originals......

Peter Wagner
East Hills NY 11576
wagsli@aol.com