Sep 25, 2012

Melody Gardot at the Park West on September 25, 2012

Magnificent Melody did not disappoint.  She is nothing short of brilliant.  Her costume tonight consisted of a turban, a long black flowing skirt, and beautiful pumps that showed off her finely honed gams.  Glitter was sprinkled on her neck and chest like pixie dust representing her magical qualities.  She was dressed to emphasize her other worldliness and the Moroccan and other world music influences of her latest album "The Absence".  She sings in spanish, french, portuguese (and english) as if she was a native.

Gardot plays guitar and piano with flourish, passion and tranquility as her mood dictates.  During her set she can be watched with her head down almost resting on the keyboard as she fiercely plays her jazz chords.  While sitting on a stool, legginess in full view, she casually and comfortably plays the strings of her guitar, plucking out the important chords and notes to accompany songs like "Comfort Me", one of my favorites.

Starting with the end first, Gardot ended the show with a medley of Fever and Summertime.  Videotaping at the Park West is forbidden but I got a good clip anyway ; )

Gardot started the show with a song from her latest album sung acapella, lights beaming down on her, while she plays a type of percussion maraca in her left hand.  Her band slowly came in one by one adding to the richness of the song.  She is becoming known not only for her sultry vocals but also her costume choices (she has a degree in fashion design) and her wry and quick wit.  After the first song, her mic became loosened and slipped straight down, still upright, stopping at the height of her, um, "pelvis".  Without missing a beat, she immediately commented to herself, the audience, and her body part "No, YOU won't be singing tonight" and then acutely added, "Well, maybe later". Wink.

Gardot has a tragic story behind the development of her talent.  At age 19, prior to producing her first full-length album, Worrisome Heart, in 2006, she was knocked off of her bicycle. This resulted  a broken pelvis and severe head and spinal injuries which have left her with a host of neurologic problems including memory deficits, an unusual sense of time and a hypersensitivity to light. She had to learn to walk again but was grateful that she survived her near death experience.  Already proficient on piano, having played from a young age, her doctors suggested that she try music therapy to help her recover.  While in the hospital, she taught herself the guitar and because she had a difficult time tolerating loud music, she began writing calming and quiet jazz ballads.  She still suffers chronically from pain and has a "tens" machine with her (I noticed it on her back) that delivers electrical stimulation to reduce her pain.  Armed additionally with a cane, dark glasses to assist with her light sensitivity, and a couple of glasses of wine on stage, she is flawless none-the-less.  That person driving the jeep must be in hiding (apparently he/she ran a red light).

Her third album, The Absence, produced by Brazilian composer and guitarist Heitor Pereirais, is more of a travelogue that transports you to several countries that Gardot visited.  She is quoted as saying that the album reflects “time spent in the deserts of Morocco, the tango bars of Buenos Aires, the beaches of Brazil and the streets of Lisboa”.

Getting to the show we were running late but managed to secure a non-metered legitimate parking spot a block from the Park West.  On top of that, we managed to secure two seats in front of the stage.  The gods and good karma were with us.  Nothing left to do but sit back and enjoy traveling with Gardot to destinations of her choosing.  As she quipped, "this is a cheaper way to visit these countries but the pilot does not know how to fly a plane".  We enjoyed the trip and landed safely back in Chicago only saddened by her departure.

Her show and awesomeness get a 5 out of 5 guitar rating.  Such a memorable experience.

1 comment:

  1. Was at that show. Actually you can see my bald head in the front row. We truly witnessed a modern day music legend to be. Would love to see more pictures if you have them. Please email if you do.
    Nice piece on the show.

    Thanks a lot,