Rachael Yamagata in Concert in Sala Bikini (Barcelona, Spain)- October 4th, 2015
I was running a bit late to meet my friend in the Sala Bikini last night to see Rachael Yamagata’s concert. I am always running late. Even more so in Barcelona and really worse when it’s to a new spot or neighborhood. I have yet to get a smart phone here. I am a lost Luddite.
I didn’t know her music too well. My friend was a true fan of hers for more than 10 years. He had bought her first album on Amazon, “Happenstance,” when she had 0 reviews for it. All I knew was that I had been listening to that song “Sidedish Friend” on my ipod for years now. I loved the complexity of the lyrics, the hidden twist in the meaning that isn’t so transparent and obvious, and the dark and too real subject matter. I was yet to find there were other more jewels in her discography crown. This concert was to mark the end of her 3 week European tour. She looked tired, but happy. She was ready to enjoy the night and gave the crowd an energetic show.
Though the crowd was smaller (less than 100), perhaps not so good for her pocket or the venue, but the experience was intimate and I felt lucky to enjoy such an unfiltered glimpse of someone who has worked with so many great people (i.e. Ray LaMontagne, Ryan Adams, Jason Mraz, among others).
She started off the hour by letting us know she would be playing dark and sad songs solo as her sidekick (who was an instrumentalist) was on his way to BC to start a tour with someone else. I listened to her playing perfectly. Never heard a missed note, though she was honest with the crowd in that she would rather not be playing solo. She switched from playing her guitar to playing her piano joking, “All this from someone who hasn’t taken any classical piano lessons.” She then gave a sly grin and continued playing. One thing that struck me as different from other performers I’ve seen live (especially women) is that she had the crowd laughing at her conversation between songs, and while playing songs, had us crying. Even though at times she would invite us into her garden of play, she would switch the path we were on and take us on the journey of pain we were living with her through her songs.
The level of comfortability she had with the audience was something a lot of performers could learn from. One moment she was asking the audience to yell out what they did for a living. The next to tell her what song she should do for the encore.
Speaking of the encore, she confided to the audience, “I haven’t written a song in a year. I’ve been on a tour and it’s always so hectic, and before that, I’ve been really focused on my new album about to come out and I haven’t had time for any new creation. I’m staying at the NH hotel in Barcelona. It has a balcony, and if you’re staying in hotel rooms on tour, having a balcony is like having another room. So I wrote this song. It’s about you guys and Barcelona. I don’t really have it figured out perfectly, and wouldn’t usually play something without mastering it, but I wrote it because I was inspired by you and your city.”
She then picked up her guitar and went through her song about ferris wheels and the beautiful people of Barcelona. It was all painfully obvious to me she was falling in love with Barcelona and not going to leave. It is what happens to everyone here, and exactly what happened to me. Oh Rachael, I understand what you’re going through. Barcelona is like a very persuasive lover.
When her show ended, it was surprising how much time she spent taking pictures and talking to fans. She is so friendly and cool. The kind of dame I instantly wanted as my BFF.
“I came all the way from the US to see you in Barcelona,” I joked as she enveloped me in a warm hug.
I told her I was a busker in Barcelona. Her eyes lit up and she told me how cool she thought that was and that she thought I should read this book about busking…She was trying to remember the title.
“The Art of Asking,” by Amanda Palmer I finished.
“Yes. That’s exactly it. She’s my neighbor in Woodstock.”
We then talked about Liz Gilbert’s talks and new book about creativity and Stephen Pressfield’s book “The War of Art.” We were definitely on the same wave length, but things had to end. Someone from the tour, maybe a personal friend perhaps, told her it was time to pack up.
I felt guilty that I took up so much of her time, because all along there was this girl waiting quietly while I and the rest of the people all took pictures and joked with her. She walked over to her and immediately started crying and shaking and saying she was one of the most influential artists for her when she was younger, well her and Michelle Branch.
Yamagata was so kind with her and said, “Let me put my arm around you while we walk down here. You’re so beautiful.”
**If you are reading this Rachael Yamagata, the offer still stands to busk with me in Barcelona. Even if you don’t stay in Barcelona or busk with me, thanks for the great performance and for being such a great representation of stage fun and brilliance.**