Monday, December 9, 2013 and then!

Within the past two years I have had the distinct pleasure to revisit live preformances by several of my favorite musical artists: Leon Russell, Abigail Washburn, and Bela Fleck. It strikes me that these favorites might depict my own rather eclectic musical tastes. However, what struck me most about the recent live performances was the difference in their music and concert presence between now...and then. 

My introduction to Leon Russell was my first official "date" with my ex-husband (Notably one of very few over 22 years!), some 37 years ago. In this concert, he was playing with his wife at the time, Mary Russell. As they both played their respective pianos and sang together, I was blown away! Typically, I prefer to listen to artists in a live concert venue, and these two were simply awesome! Their music felt so spiritual to me...I was so moved by their combined sound! As the years progressed, I listened to more of Leon's recordings, discovering that this was just one type of music he would create and perform over time. He is quite an eclectic musician! You can discover much more about him and his music here

Then, in 2010, he and another of my favorite musicians, Elton John, recorded and released an album entitled The Union! Was I ever excited! I almost wore this CD out listening to it in my car! I loved it, and what a nice "mix" of music on this one--particularly the original compositions. 

About two months ago, I received an email regarding an upcoming Leon Russell concert in a small intimate venue located within relatively easy driving distance, and couldn't wait to purchase tickets! Thirty-seven years later and I was just as excited, perhaps even more so, to see and hear this fantastic musician in a live venue again! Although I kept reminding myself that this concert would NOT be a repeat of that memorable experience almost 40 years ago, he was no longer singing with (nor married to) Mary AND I knew he had experienced some health challenges over the past few years, but still...I was surprised by the music and presentation. A LOT more rock and roll covers, much louder, more instruments than just a piano, etc. Many changes... Then Leon was finally alone on the stage with only his piano and I got an enjoyable dose of what I truly consider to be "Leon Russell" music! And I am ever grateful to him for revisiting those same songs, etc. I found his dialogue with the audience truly enlightening, enjoyable, and heartfelt. 

I admit to loving his full beard
and long hair!!
This performance did not disappoint me, per se, but I was a bit surprised. It just wasn't what I was expecting. But exactly what was I expecting? A total re-enactment of that concert 37 years ago? I hope not, 'cause that would be totally unrealistic, wouldn't it? But...I loved it so much...

This has gotten me thinking In the "live concert afterglow"... Should I have been surprised by these differences? I don't know, but I was...and yet, as I consider my experience with and reactions to these performances, I chastise myself for seemingly trying to hold onto the past--not being more open to performers' growth and development within their profession and skill set. I am trying to focus on my gratitude for one more live interaction with this "bigger than life" musician and concentrate on what I prefer among his eclectic collection of recordings. 

Has this ever happened to you? Have any of your favorite musicians' styles changed over time? Do you ever find it challenging to accept such changes? I doubt I'm alone in this plight... :)

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