Friday night, I saw Bruce Hornsby put on an inspirational performance that moved me deeply and reminded me of the true power that artists have to touch people with their god given talents.
The venue was the Carmel Palladium near Indianapolis and, with a capacity of a tick over 1400, intimacy (if you’ll accept it) is guaranteed. Our seats for the sold out performance were probably 125 feet from a stage filled with … Bruce, a Steinway and a microphone.
From the start of the show, I knew I wanted to write something. I started thinking about penning a review of the concert, which then evolved into a review of the concert and the venue (which I helped build) and then, I realized; neither could allow me to really explain how his music took me to hidden places that only true artists can help tap.
Between the first song and the three song encore, I experienced moments of awe the way he floated through the melodies and improvised piano jams; I was transported to far away visions of grassy fields in sync with stories unrelated to his songs; I was touched by ringless fingers of artistry that I will never be graced to feel; I was induce in a musical trance that surrounded me with bliss.
As he built upon each song, you could see Bruce almost fall into the piano. The song would began with him sitting upright, straight backed and formal to his instrument but, as the songs progressed from the typical radio tune towards fusion with another genre; he began to melt into the piano. The transition started with a small rounding of the shoulders as he began his descent into the song. Often I found myself closing my eyes as he strayed from the melody into his interpretation of the song that took the tune and me to places deeply removed from where we began. When I’d open my eyes, his face would be less than a foot away from the keys as if he was coaxing the music from the sound board of the piano. His fingers knew no musical bounds as he seamlessly transitioned from a song he composed to a classical arrangement by Victor Babin and back to his own. My mood seemed follow the passion he poured into the song with short bursts of complete fascination that anyone could possess such extraordinary musical talent.
As I closed my eyes during The End of the Innocence and his voice blended with the melody, only select words stood out and I was transported to a natural clearing in the London countryside that only existed in George Orwell’s 1984. A vision of the grassy knoll surrounded by tall saplings appeared and a scene where Winston and Julia met to escape their reality and share forbidden time played in my head. As the song continued and shifted towards a melancholy piano solo and finally to the familiar, the scene faded back into only melody and I was back in the Palladium.
Artists have a true gift of enriching people’s lives. If they accept and share their gift of creating, interpreting or capturing the world around them, they have the power to inspire and enrich the lives of their audience. They have the power to help people find places in their lives that they don’t find on their own. I was blessed, however, to be able to realize, find and appreciate the beauty in other people’s art.
On this night, I was blessed for Bruce Hornsby to have shared his amazing gift with me; enriched my spirit and take me on a soulful journey to places I hadn’t found. Thank you, Bruce, for Friday night and the musical legacy you continue to leave that lets me experience your phenomenal gift and, for it, be a more complete man.