House of Blues and Many Colours.
Chicago has been a joy. A City on the water, with reflections everywhere – The buildings reflect the sunlight and the water reflects people living their lives.
Their shadows pass across the surface of the river and the hot pavements.
It is a mix of wealth and poverty, of the ups and the downs of life and in the middle of it all people are singing the Blues.
The House Of Blues is tucked away between fancy hotels, apartments, parking spaces and riverside walks.
It is a strange building, with a special hydraulic system that allows the floor to move with the audience. Inside, it is decorated with colourful patterns and pictures made from assorted lost treasures from seemingly lost worlds. It resonates with the blues almost from the moment it opens, with music played constantly in the bar and nightly in the main show area on the first floor.
In this place, Hanson opened their Roots and Rock N Roll tour, with 2 nights of music from decades of truly great music making.
Among the covers, performed on both nights, were songs that came with credentials. The artists or the stories were often familiar to the audience, as Hanson have often referenced significant influences. Not every song was expected and there were a few gasps of surprise as a particular Billy Joel number or Paul Simon song appeared.
But there was a moment, when the background chatter that had been present during much of the show, was silenced. It happened quite suddenly. It was unannounced and it was the work of Taylor Hanson. After taking to the piano for his solo moment, he referred to the music of Oklahoma and began to play what was an unfamiliar sound to many. The opening notes, in a minor key, were haunting and fragile and a silence grew which held the moment as the sound was resolved and the vocal began.
Many people may have then recognised a song hailed as an American classic. Covered by Aretha Franklin, Amy Winehouse, Ray Charles, Usher and many others, a Song For You, is a plea for forgiveness and understanding from the heart of an artist whose life has been lived out on a public stage and still knows the real value of a song. It is brave, tender, heartbreakingly honest and beautiful beyond words.
Written by Leon Russell, from Lawton Oklahoma, its inclusion illustrated some the essence of the Roots element of this Hanson tour.
Taylor’s vocal, which was soft and strong, captured the vulnerability of the lyric, and his sensitive interpretation gently conveyed the meaning. His tribute to the music of his home and the power of a great song, sung with feeling, was worth the ticket and the travel, all by itself.
The songs included on this tour, with covers and originals placed along side each other; touch on all sorts of human experiences and emotions. The songs themselves take the audience from a tender moment to an explosion of excitement. The songs are triggers for memories, which span 20 years and more, and as the music is performed new memories are made.
In the House Of Blues, Chicago, there are some old and tattered patchwork curtains, made from small pieces of exquisitely beautiful material. They are sewn together with large stitches of coloured thread and they hang heavily in front of the stage.
For this audience member, they became a metaphor for the experience of this music.
Each Hanson song, each cover interpreted with respect, each moment of generous performance in 10 thousand places, in space and time, joined together to create something different for each person who loves this band. Hanson and their brilliant music.