Sunday, December 14, 2008

Concert Review: Sarah Brightman - MTS Centre, Winnipeg, MB, 12/06/2008

About 6000 people braved the cold to take in Sarah Brightman's Winnipeg stop on her latest tour, in support of the just-released Symphony album and DVD.

Accompanied by eight young maidens as dancers, Brightman (April 14, 1960) led the show through sweet interpretations of some well-known songs, like Kansas' "Dust In the Wind," the "Phantom of the Opera," and several of her own songs, including the famous "Time To Say Goodbye," which wasn't sung in duet mode, despite having two sensational guest tenors in the show.

There were many costume changes. Brightman looked fabulous and sang beautifully in either her pop or operatic voice. The middle section of the stage was occasionally lowered to create a dip from which Brightman and her dancers would lie flat and with the huge movable Mylar screens above her. The reflection of the group on the screens made it appear as if they were floating.

At times, the middle screen was lowered with Brightman standing behind it and stunning visual imagery was projected around her, like fields of grass with growing plants that would turn into trees, then really old trees with butterflies and shooting stars at night. In one memorable part of the show (a "scene", really), Brightman sat atop a bicycle while the video footage around her showed a dark road within a creepy forest at night whipping past her, giving the sensation that she was actually moving on the bike. Ghostly wolves also appeared on bikes and performed some wheelies while trying to get her to crash.

It was both creepy and cheesy at the same time. At the beginning of another scene, one of the dancers was unmistakably dressed up as Alice and while walking down the catwalk that jutted out to the middle of the floor, a large rabbit appeared from a trap door. This led to appearances by the Mad Hatter and dancers dressed up as playing cards.

Near the beginning of one of the songs, the audience was suddenly surprised to hear this amazing male tenor vocal and then the appearance of someone who looked and sounded like he was from Il Divo. He was introduced as Mario Frangoulis (December 1, 1966), a Greek, who received a ton of applause for his two or three appearances in the show. Also appearing was Argentine singer Fernando Lima (May 7, 1975), who has recorded with Brightman.

Visually, this show was a winner. The sound was also excellent, clear, and well-defined. The backing band looked like and sounded like polished heavy metal players. When the show first began, it occurred to me that Brightman's sound is sometimes like bombastic hard rock/ metal meets opera. The band sounded clean and heavy, ideal to back someone like Meatloaf. Formerly married to Andrew Lloyd Webber (22 March, 1948), Brightman has sold 26 million albums and is still the only artist to appear at the number one position simultaneously on the Billboard Classical and Dance charts.

I'm knocking one star since some of the songs she sang, usually in foreign languages, didn't seem like material that I would want to hear again. Like all artists, Brightman does her best with her signature talent - in this case, vocals - in spite of some of her unexceptional song choices.

My rating for this concert is 4/5.

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