Saturday, October 31, 2015

Same Song, Same Place, Different Performances

One of my favorite words ever is "Juxtaposition". The strange relationship between two contrasting people, places, or things based on their proximity to each other just always seems to catch my attention.

Last night, for the 6th time this year I went to a Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center event. This time it was to see a pop music legend in concert. 

I won tickets to see Don McLean from a local radio station. Although the show was in the middle of the week, I knew I had to go just for the experience of seeing him perform "American Pie". 

The song is as much a part of the legacy of American music as (insert your choice for greatest pop song of the last 50 years here). 

Also, McLean's second best known hit, "Vincent" is one of my all-time favorite "non-love song" ballads. It was one of the first 45 records I ever bought with my own money when I was a kid. 

But let's get back to "American Pie" and the juxtaposition I mentioned earlier. 

Of course hearing McLean perform his American standard was a unique experience in and of itself. 

However, it was actually the 2nd time this year that I heard the song's iconic melody played at SkyPac. 

Both of the performances were unique and memorable but artistically polar opposites.  

The first time I heard the tune was during the encore at the conclusion of the July 7 Weird Al Yankovich concert. 

That's when Al, amidst a standing ovation from the sold-out house, returned back to the stage surrounded by a group of costumed Star Wars characters. Dressed as a Jedi warrior, he sat on a wooden stool. Much to the audience's delight he sang "The Saga Begins"; a parody of McLean's "American Pie" that humorously tells Darth Vader's origin story. 

Just like the rest of the show, this finale was an amazing on-stage production. Here's a pic of what the stage looked like.   

Having seen Weird Al in concert twice in the last 5 years, in my opinion he is a genius performer. 

Fast forward to 16 weeks later and another SkyPac audience is gathered to hear McLean, the 70 year old member of the songwriters hall of fame, play and sing his hits. 

Over the course of 90 minutes he sang "And I Love You So", "Crying", the previously mentioned "Vincent" and finally his magnum opus, "American Pie." 

But this time the melody was not witnessed by Vader & company nor was the singer in any kind costume. 

The stage was set up more like a rehearsal hall than anything else. Here's the best shot I could get with my phone's camera. 

Juxtaposed along side Weird Al's elaborate production stage it would seem that last night's concert left a little to be desired. Yet McLean's signature song made Al's tour finale possible.   

Which brings me to yet another one of my favorite words: Irony. 

So there you have my ironic experience of hearing the same song in the same place twice presented in two totally different ways. 

Just one of those things that happens once in a while that continues to make life fun and interesting. 

No comments: