Before this evening, I had never been to Wolf Trap for a performance, but it reminds me of the greatest tree house I never had, with stellar acoustics and lights to boot. Tonight, Ingrid Michaelson opened for Rufus Wainwright, and with the perfect weather and amazing artists, I couldn’t have asked for a better first experience
Ingrid Michaelson, hailing from Staten Island, is known for her piano, guitar, and ukulele-driven tunes. Tonight’s performance at the Wolf Trap Filene Center stage is part of a tour to promote her newest album, Human Again, with her 5-person band. This album, with soaring strings and driving refrains, shows more of her versatility as an artist.
If Ms. Michaelson’s name doesn’t jog your memory, you probably are familiar with some of her songs that were included on the Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack…and in Old Navy commercials…and on One Tree Hill.
With an accessible voice, this independent artist – she has her own production company, Cabin 24 Records – reaches audiences with her sometimes quirky and charming, but above all, honest, lyrics. If you’ve ever been in love or been scorned by it, her music will resonate with you.
Tonight’s set opened with an explosive and exciting “Fire” and proceeded to run through the album, with a few extra songs thrown in – my personal favorites “The Chain” and “The Way I Am,” both from previous albums, and an incredible cover of R.E.M.’s “Nightswimming.” Her folksy and delightful voice filled the Filene Center, and Michaelson, dressed in skinny jeans, a tank, wedge heels, and her signature glasses, joked with the audience, told anecdotes about her songs, was a little bit awkward, and just consistently awesome. Which begs the question…Ingrid Michaelson, will you be my best friend?
After Michaelson’s set and a brief turnaround onstage, headliner and singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright took to the stage. Known for his theatrics, Wainwright started out the promotion of his newest album (number seven), Out of the Game, on a pitch black stage with only flickering candles. He sang an a cappella version of “Candles” in the candlelight, and it was very effective. After the lights came on and we saw him in his bright red sunglasses, black tux jacket, and what I can only describe as cow-print pants, he continued with more selections from his current album. Out of the Game shows input from famous producer Mark Ronson, who has worked with the likes of Adele, Christina Aguilera, and Amy Winehouse.
According to Wainwright’s website, he and Ronson “both credit the influence of the great recordings of the 1970s on Out of the Game.” This was apparent tonight, with Wainwright jumping from funk to soft rock to power ballads to jazz to disco/techno “fancy dancey” tunes without missing a beat. His mesmerizing and truly unique voice captivated the large audience, and his lyrics offered some insight to his personal life—the death of his mother (Kate McGarrigle), the birth of his daughter (“Montauk”), and engagement to his fiancé (“Song of You”). He included a song in this set from his late mother and “One Man Guy” from his father’s (Loudon Wainwright III) repertoire, which he shared with his guitar man, Teddy Thompson, and another backup singer. Honestly, I’d love to hear more of Teddy’s country twang and guitar playing, next time. He closed his set with some “fancy dancey” music, as he called it, and all in all, it was a great show and very entertaining. I laughed, cried, danced and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
So Ingrid…call me?
Ingrid Michaelson’s website.
Rufus Wainwright’s website.