LIVE: Lindsey Stirling @ SPAC, 08/16/2021
“Never think that you are not good enough, or not talented enough, or that you are not working hard enough.” These are the words of wisdom Lindsey Stirling conveyed to the audience at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Monday night. She spoke about her struggles to achieve her dream. Being a dancer violinist doesn’t seem like a great career choice on paper, but on stage it’s a different story.
Stirling is a whirlwind on stage. Imagine if you will, a tornado picking up a symphony, a ballet, Cirque du Soleil and throwing them into a rock show. It’s a Lindsey Stirling concert. The production was on par with any arena rock show on the road today. Huge video wall, lasers and one of the best lighting designers I’ve seen. Every few songs, Stirling would disappear for a costume change as the videos were shown on the big screen. Messages of positivity and perseverance were the order of the day. It was wonderful to see so many families with their children. As role models, Stirling is a shining light. Especially for young girls in the audience.
The current version of Stirling and the namesake of the tour is Artemis, named after the Greek goddess of the moon, the hunt and the wilderness. The theme of the disc is the battle between darkness and light. The fight between Artemis and Nyx, the goddess of the night.
Opening her set with the title song, Stirling watched and played the part of the goddess at a tee. She jumped up and circled around the stage with the fringes of her costume twirling around her waist. His four auxiliary dancers, Kailyn Rogers, Jessica Richens, Addie Byers and Taylor Gray Gagliano dressed in a similar style followed his example. She caught the public’s attention and didn’t release that hold for more than 90 minutes.
She followed up “Artemis” with “Til the Lights Go Out”, “Darkside”, “Shatter Me” and “Masquerade” before her first costume change. Coming out backstage disguised as a pirate, with a plush parrot on her shoulder, Stirling told a story behind her book “The Only Pirate at the Party.” Invited to a Peter Pan-themed party, she arrived to find that she was the only one to come in disguise. Instead of feeling embarrassed about it. subject, she doubled down. She embraced being a person, being different and true to herself. She summed it up by reminding the crowd “don’t be afraid to be the only pirate.” at the party “.
Stirling brought back a highlight of my childhood by making the following song “Master of Tides” a performance of Thing Your Own Adventure. As in the Choose Your Own Adventure books, the audience had a choice about how the performance would unfold. Would it be a sword fight or would they go fishing? Will they return home or seek treasure? The final choice resulted in a mutiny which found Stirling upside down, blindfolded, ten feet above the stage, still playing his violin.
Stirling got his start on YouTube making videos, often of songs by his favorite artists. She presented the song “Love Goes On and On” speaking about her love for the band Evanescence. She talked about being young, picking up their songs and befriending Evanescence singer Amy Lee. As the song kicked off, the video wall came alive and Amy Lee joined Stirling on stage via a pre-recorded backing vocal track. The strength of Lee’s voice along with the virtuosity of Stirling’s instrumentation set a high mark for the performance, which ended with Stirling again swinging upside down, circling around without missing a single note.
Another costume change followed and the band tore up a stunning rendition of “Crystalize” before disappearing from the scene. Stirling took center stage with her keyboardist Ryan Riveros and performed a mix of songs from Disney / Pixar movies. The theme of the movie “Up” was brought to the fore by Chihuahua Luna from Stirling prancing across the stage, strapped to a gigantic yellow balloon. Several other Disney themes were played before she ended with Toy Story’s “You’ve Got a Friend In Me”. Once again, Luna crossed the stage. This time dressed as Woody from the movie. The audience loved it. Stirling jokingly lamented that her dog got the biggest applause after being on stage for nine seconds while she spent ninety minutes dancing and playing.
“Between Twilight” found Stirling once again hoisted into the air. This time, she went almost to the herringbone with long streamers of flowing fabric from her dress to the stage. As she sat above the SPAC stage, her dancers swirled in and out of the streamers as images of the moon and stars shone on the screen behind Stirling.
Another costume change followed with Stirling and the dancers emerging in white umbrellas. She slipped between the dancers as they twirled the umbrellas as they performed a catchy version of “Sleepwalking”.
Another video set the stage for the last costume change of the night. Stirling appeared on stage in a bright red wig, evoking thoughts of Milla Jovovich in “The Fifth Element.” She ran and jumped all over the stage, bringing the already high energy level to a climax. Walking through “The Arena” and “Underground”, her dancers joined her, dressed in futuristic costumes with huge dark glasses.
Guitarist Riveros has once again joined Stirling in the center of the stage. “Roundtable Rival” began with Riveros sporting bright LED glasses. He fought with Stirling. They clashed, Riveros shredding his PRS and Stirling returning it to him. “Roundtable Rival” changed to “Don’t Let This Feeling Fade”. Texan rapper Lecrae appeared onscreen to perform with the group.
Stirling walked over to the microphone to introduce the song “First Light”. She explained how light overcomes darkness and how positivity overcomes the negative. Fans turned on the lights on their cell phones and held them up. Transform the amphitheater into a bright night sky.
Once again, her dancers joined her on stage for the closing show “Mirage”. Their dress and dance moves evoked thoughts of Bollywood musicals. The elaborate light show and dance routine got the standing crowd dancing. It was the perfect song to end.
Stirling left the stage, but the audience weren’t leaving or calming down. She returned to the stage and walked over to the microphone. Lit by the spotlight, she performed “Guardian”, a song she wrote when her best friend and father died of cancer. She explained that they were her guardian angels and that the final song was for them.
Full disclosure here, I am a fan of country, rock, and metal. Other than a few google searches for background information, I had no knowledge of Lindsey Stirling until last night. I was absolutely blown away. Take my advice and get out there as soon as you can. She is a revelation.