Last night on October 28 at the SAP Center in San Jose, Sarah Brightman showed us what she has been cultivating in her dreams since her last album, 2008’s A Winter Symphony. Brightman’s Dreamchaser album, released in the U.K. in May, is ethereal as Brightman is naturally, but here the soprano took her audience to the stars, the moon, and back.
Grand expectations to meet the live production for her shows stem from a grand album in itself, yet Brightman achieves them with two dancers, an electronic backdrop, and her band of a guitarist, two keyboardists and a drummer. Against her backdrop displaying the cosmos, and dressed in glittering gowns like a new age angel that ranged from sparkling lunar white to one cosmic number that electronically changed glowing colors in small panels (with equally dazzling tiaras and spindly couture-esque headdresses atop her thick dark tresses), Brightman delivered the visuals and vocals. Her lighting show was stunning. Take for example, one of her highlights, “Ave Maria,” where the soprano was enshrined in rays of blue and white light as she stood atop a platform, making her a celestial diamond.
Brightman’s long fascination with space inspired much of the album and the show production; indeed, she has completed some of her training to be a cosmonaut and hopes to be in space in 2015. For now, she travels along the constellations and planets in a different sense, with her audience along for the visceral journey. Dreamchaser was long awaited and worth the time, making it all the more intensely special – it really is one of Brightman’s best productions of her career. It is clear that Brightman has perfected her craft and knows how to express her imagination beautifully, passionately, and memorably.
“Angel,” a single from Dreamchaser, “One Day Like This” (a cover of fellow Britons, Elbow), and “Glósóli” (a Sigur Ros cover) opened the two-hour set that also had a 20-minute intermission between two acts. For a large venue like the SAP Center that holds 13,000, the sound and mixing was quite fine, crisp, and nice.
The Bay Area audience expressed their strong love for Brightman in loud applause, and rose to their feet for favorite songs that have stood the test of time, such as “Nessun Dorma,” “Time to Say Goodbye,” and “The Phantom of the Opera.” Portraying the original Christine Daae on the latter, the title song to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, it was a treat to experience its famous ending notes sung live. They seemed to reach up past the rafters and into the skies. Erkan Aki, a lauded Swiss tenor, joined her for soulful duets on the last two songs mentioned above. “A Question of Honor,” a great single from her 1995 album, Fly, was the finale.
As beautiful as the concert was and Brightman is, it will always be her gorgeous voice that crystallizes all of it, leaving the audience swept up in the powerful emotion it carries or silently enthralled when she chooses to hold back for moments of sheer and simple beauty.
Sarah Brightman is one of the best singers of our time, and if you can see her live, I encourage you to. Her current tour began in June in China and will end in early December in Brazil. The singer’s last three shows in the U.S. are on October 30 in Phoenix, and November 1-2 in Los Angeles. It will be awhile again before Brightman comes back, but she’s left the stars in our eyes and ears.