Lea Michele & Darren Criss—LM/DC Tour
Opening acts: None
Date Seen: May 30, 2018
Cost of Ticket: $80
Our favourite Glee stars kicked off their summer tour last night at the famed Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Both Lea and Darren have the vocals and star power to carry this show, however, the show was spoiled by poor sound engineering. Essentially, the music was too loud for the delicate Ryman. Perhaps, Darren Criss & Lea Michele figured this out by doing an encore that was completely acoustic (sans microphone, speaker or lighting for that matter). But let's start at the beginning.
The show started nearly a half hour late, with the Ryman keeping concertgoers waiting in ridiculous lines outside the theatre in the rain. Bad on you Ryman! Walking into this show, I said to my parents that the success of it weighed heavily on the setlist. Lea and Darren are known for their roles on Glee but have since gone on to record their own music to limited/moderate success. Luckily the setlist was near perfect—packed full of the songs made popular on Glee. The pair kicked off the show with “Broadway Baby” that was sung on Glee and a fitting song for them both. Lea especially knew what the crowd wanted to hear while Darren’s selections were more obscure, even his Broadway choices. Overall, the show was well balanced with what I wanted to hear and what they had to try and sell (their new independent music).
Lea’s voice is something to behold. It is every bit as magical as Streisand or Menzel. She effortlessly hit notes that would scare other professional singers. However, because of the microphones, she lacked clarity. Several times, she even manually corrected her singing to adjust for feedback with the mic. Although I suspect she is too professional to do it, it sounded like she had skipped the sound check. (On a crazy sidenote, Celine Dion used to skip soundchecks and call them in over the cell phone while she was traveling. So it can be done). And while you could hear her pitch-perfect notes, more than half the time you didn’t know what she was singing unless you knew the song. Also, she had a couple 'off' moments in the show, most notably during my favourite song of hers, Battlefield, where she had rearranged the music but obviously forgot. They had to stop the song and pick up after the chorus. Another time later in the show, while singing with Darren, she in her own words, “fucked it up” again.
Darren Criss could be seen as the underdog on this tour but he makes certain to prove that isn’t the case. While he might lack Lea’s elevated vocals, he compensates with musicality, movement, and personality. And luckily he is able to come across as anything but the psycho from the Assassination of Gianni Versace. He has a genuine gift for music; especially with his songwriting, composing and arranging. But, that doesn’t necessarily translate into a stellar performance. He kept dismissing the band to play solo which was distracting - and most of the time he sounded better with the other four musicians (Sorry Darren). He was most enjoyable when he sang recognizable songs such as Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” which he covered on Glee. His best moment on stage, by far, was when he covered Patsy Cline’s classic “She’s Got You.” Also, Darren’s voice came through much clearer than Lea’s so that was an added benefit to him.
Overall, an enjoyable night of music. The show lasted less than 2 hours which is short for 2 performers. Darren and Lea’s chemistry was fun and light, although, half was lost through the mics. Sadly, the sound worked against them here. As a performer with your name on your marquee, the show is ultimately your responsibility. If you sound bad, even though the mixer or sound engineer or stage manager or band compromise you, I think it’s within your power/right to correct it. Both Lea and Darren were off stage at times and could have easily spoken to their team to correct the change necessary. Although, they should have been settled long before the show at the sound check. I quickly googled “Ryman acoustics” and the third article discussed how delicate the Ryman is, and that it has near-perfect acoustics. However, when the music is too loud, it throws everything off, which is what I think happened last night. Regardless, great talent, decent performance, lousy sound.
Don't Rain on my Parade
Maybe this Time
Edge of Glory
Glitter in the Air
Run to You
Baby I Don't Care
I Don't Mind
She's Got You
Brotherhood of Man/Midnight Radio Medley
The Coolest Girl
Don't You Want Me Baby (the human league cover)
To Make You Feel My Love (acoustic)
May 30 in Nashville, Tennessee, at The Ryman Auditorium
May 31 in Cincinnati, Ohio, at Taft Theatre
June 2 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at Benedum Center
June 3 in Washington, D.C., at Kennedy Center
June 5 in Indianapolis, Indiana, at Murat Theatre
June 6 in Columbus, Ohio, at Ohio Theatre
June 8 in Easton, Pennsylvania, at State Theatre Center for the Arts
June 9 in Newark, New Jersey, at NJPAC
June 10 in Toronto, Ontario, at Sony Theatre
June 26 in Chicago, Illinois, at Chicago Theater
June 27 in St. Louis, Missouri, at Peabody Opera House
June 29 in Atlanta, Georgia, at Cobb Energy Center
June 30 in Durham, North Carolina, at DPAC
July 1 in Charlotte, North Carolina, at Ovens Auditorium