Last night, I said it wasn't a tough call - and going to Worcester last night was most definitely the right call. I'm not going to be as long and fawning about it as the last time, but there were some notable points.
The preliminaries: We got there well before the doors opened, and had to wait outside. Once we were admitted, being male accorded us an unexpected benefit. We were patted down by the students staffing the event, and that required separation by gender. A conservative estimate of the female-to-male ratio in attendance would be three to one, and thus Veez and I got to the ticket takers faster. Once inside Assumption College's gym, we went to the stage, but quickly realized that the opening act wouldn't mount up for about an hour. Veez suggested retreating to the bleachers; it wasn't until a few minutes later that I took him up on it. As I admitted to him, "the air down there is saturated with estrogen, and that was clouding my judgment." Finally, Mat Kearney took the stage, and we moved down close. Early on, he spoke of a song written about being alone on Valentine's Day, and asked who in the audience was single. This prompted the line "I went to a Sara Bareilles show, and an episode of Love Connection broke out." Kearney was a solid opener, especially with only one accompanying musician.
Sara's set: It was shorter than the one she played in Hartford, at only eleven songs. This time around, she did play "One Sweet Love"; she left out three of the twelve from Little Voice ("Between The Lines," "Love On The Rocks," and "City"). This could possibly been linked with the fact that the band was on the proverbial penalty kill - only four were on the stage (Sara, Javier, Josh, and Daniel). She did give us a new song, "Gonna Get Over You." I am, however, not certain whether "new" means new on this tour, or never been played in public before. The one other song was the last before the necessary encore of "Gravity." Sara said we'd all know the words to it, and she stepped out from behind the piano and took up the guitar. Once the Piano Woman's voice launched into the lyrics, they were certainly familiar. Unless you're my friend RB (and thus don't follow popular music) or live under a rock or in some kind of commune, you'd recognize the lyrics to one of the biggest worldwide hits of 2007 - Rihanna's "Umbrella." Hell, even if you spent half that year deployed on a nuclear-powered submarine, you'd pick out those words. It was most interesting to hear that pop hit slowed down and rendered with only drums, a bass, and two guitars. I expect that by the next time I see her (and there WILL be such a time), she might roll in the style of The Roots and slow jam some news for us.
Postgame: We bolted with the crowd immediately after the encore. I was tired, and the hour-plus drive back to the Armpit of New England was my responsibility. Despite the target-rich environment, I had no interest in playing the role of skeevy old man, and I suspect Veez didn't either. And even if we did, only having one car could have presented severe logistical problems should one of us have succeeded and the other failed in that endeavor. We both bought autographed posters on the way out. Not only is the artwork fan-produced (through a contest on MySpace), close forensic examination reveals that the signature is genuine. That's certainly one way to fetch fifteen dollars for a twelve-by-eighteen-inch piece of card stock. Oh, and I was nearly run off the road on the way back. I'm cruising along in the center lane on I-290/395, and all of a sudden The Fast and the Furious breaks out behind me. Not fun.
Loose ends: Early in the set, Sara claimed that she and her band opened for Three 6 Mafia on Friday night, and that at least one flask made its way onto the stage. (Sara, in her characteristic style, thanked the thrower for the gift.) I have been able neither to confirm nor deny that the Memphis based rap group played Stonehill College two nights ago (that's where Sara was). And...I finally got to verbalize (to Veez) the thought that has run through my head nearly every time I've heard the end of the first verse of "Love Song": "She said hard-on."
All in all, another most memorable night. Props and thanks to Veez for procuring the admission and accompanying me up there. And for, simply through his presence, reminding me of what awaits me upon my most imminent departure from the Navy...