Ingrid Michaelson: Joe’s Pub 24 January 2012

Ingrid Michaelson hasn’t toured in a year and a half so when, on her Facebook page, she started announcing pop-up concerts I kept my eye open and I was rewarded with seeing the announcement of a concert at Joe’s Pub on the same day as her new cd Human Again was being released. Ingrid announced from the stage that the concert sold out in one hour and someone from the audience yelled out that it was 45 minutes. Actually the concert was sold out as soon as she announced it because if you didn’t get on the Joe’s Pub site immediately it was impossible to get on. By the time the site allowed me to buy tickets there were only two left. Both rtb and violaleeblue graciously gave up the opportunity to see Ingrid in one of our favorite spots and let Lila, who was in NYC for work, to have the other ticket. Ingrid also announced that on its release date the new cd was the number one download on iTunes. If anyone had any doubt before there is none now – Ingrid is a star.

Ingrid was joined by Allie Moss on guitar and background vocals, Chris Kuffner on bass and background vocals, and Elliot Jacobson on drums. Ingrid played guitar, ukulele, and made very good use of the grand piano that sits on Joe’s stage. We had great seats – sitting in the corner of the bar and whoever was supposed to sit on the counter in front of us didn’t show up so we had a clear view of the stage.

Most of the performance was a showcase for the new cd. It’s a darker Ingrid and, for me, takes some getting used to. In the past when I heard a new song or cd from her, I immediately fell in love with it and several songs on the cd would become my new favorites. This time I can’t say that – I can’t pick any song out right away as a favorite. Some of them feel a little overworked and I think maybe she spent too much time on the cd. Saying all that, it’s still one of the best cds you’ll hear this year and you should buy it. Ingrid has one of the most unique voices in music today and her songwriting is better than almost anything that’s out there.

As always, Ingrid’s storytelling is one of the reasons you have to see her live. We heard that she almost didn’t make the show because she had had heart palpitations and was rushed by ambulance to the emergency room for what was a panic attack. She jokingly called it a near-death experience and made up a ridiculous freestyle jazz song and then laughed over what Grey’s Anatomy would make of that song. She also confessed that the last song on the cd, which is named “End of World” is supposed to be “End of the World” – no one caught that before it went out. As soon as she came out she said she was hungry and looked down at the plates of the people sitting in front of the stage. Joe’s Pub wraps the salad with a long thin strip of cucumber and cucumber and pickle jokes were a theme throughout the night.

Ingrid’s cover of “Nightswiming” was a highlight of the REM tribute concert at Carnegie Hall a few years ago. That time was the first time she used looping and it was just Ingrid’s vocals and cello. This time it was just Ingrid’s voice looped over and over and over for one of the most brilliant versions of “Nightswimming” that I will ever hear. For her first encore Ingrid played “The Way I Am.” She wasn’t prepared for a second encore but we wouldn’t let her go. She wanted to do another song from the new cd but couldn’t remember it and the crowd kept shouting out requests. She finally decided to perform “The Chain” and called everyone else out to help out – I can’t imagine that song live without Allie. All over the club you could see phones up in the air as people were recording. “The Chain” is always a highlight of an Ingrid concert and that night they performed one of the most sublime transcendental versions of that song that I’ve ever heard.

By Carene Lydia Lopez