LIVE: Lindsey Stirling @ SPAC, 08/16/2021

“Don’t ever believe that you’re not good enough, or not talented enough, or don’t work hard enough.” Those were the words of wisdom Lindsey Stirling imparted on the audience at Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Monday night. She spoke of her struggles making her dream come true. Being a dancing violinist doesn’t sound like a great career choice on paper, but on the stage, it is 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 dropping them into a rock show. THAT is 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 have witnessed. Every few songs Stirling would disappear for a costume change while videos played on the big screen. Messages of positivity and perseverance were the order of the day. It was wonderful to see so many families there with their kids. As role models go, Stirling is a shining light. Especially for the young girls in the audience.

Stirling’s current release 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 record is the battle between the dark and the light. The struggle between Artemis and Nyx, the Goddess of the night.

Opening her set with the title track, Stirling looked and played the part of the goddess to a tee. She leapt and spun around the stage with the fringes of her costume twirling around her waist. Her four backup dancers, Kailyn Rogers, Jessica Richens, Addie Byers, and Taylor Gray Gagliano dressed in a similar style followed her lead. She grabbed the audience’s attention didn’t loosen that grip for over 90 minutes.

She followed “Artemis” with “Til the Lights Go Out,” “Darkside,” “Shatter Me” and “Masquerade before her first costume change. Emerging from backstage dressed as a pirate, complete with a stuffed 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 who came in costume. Instead of feeling self conscious about it, she doubled down. She embraced being an individual, 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 next song “Master of Tides” a Chose Your Own Adventure performance. Like the Choose Your Own Adventure books, the audience was given choices about how the performance would go. Would it be a swordfight or would they go fishing? Would they sail home or search for treasure? The final choice resulted in a mutiny that found Stirling hanging upside down, blindfolded, ten feet above the stage, still playing her violin.

Stirling got her start on YouTube making videos, often of songs by her favorite artists. She introduced the song “Love Goes On and On” by speaking about her love for the band Evanescence. She spoke of being young, covering their songs and how she became friends with Evanescence singer Amy Lee. Kicking the song off, the video wall flashed to life and Amy Lee joined Stirling on stage via a pre-recorded backing vocal track. The strength of Lee’s vocals with the virtuosity of Stirling’s instrumentation set a high mark for the performance, which ended with Stirling dangling upside down once again, spinning around and around without missing a single note.

Another costume change followed and the band ripped through a blistering rendition of “Crystalize” before they disappeared off stage. Stirling made her way to center stage with her keyboardist, Ryan Riveros and performed a medley of songs from Disney/Pixar movies. The theme to the movie “Up” was highlighted by Stirling’s Chihuahua Luna prancing across the stage, tethered to a gigantic yellow balloon. Several more Disney themes were played before she finished with Toy Story’s “You’ve Got a Friend In Me.” Once again, Luna made her way across the stage. This time dressed as Woody from the film. The audience loved it. Stirling jokingly lamented that her dog gets the biggest applause after being on the stage for nine seconds while she spends ninety minutes dancing and playing.

“Between Twilight” found Stirling once again hoisted in the air. This time she went almost all the way to the rafters with long, flowing streamers of fabric from her dress reaching all the way to the stage. As she sat aloft high above the SPAC stage her dancers twirled in and out of the streamers while images of the moon and stars shone from the screen behind Stirling.

Yet another costume change followed with Stirling and the dancers emerging in white carrying umbrellas. She wove in between the dancers as they spun the umbrellas as they performed a rousing version of “Sleepwalking.”
Another video set the stage for the final costume change of the night. Stirling emerged on stage with 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 fever pitch. Running through “The Arena” and “Underground,” her dancers joined her, dressed in futuristic costumes complete with enormous black goggles.

Guitarist Riveros once again joined Stirling at center stage. “Roundtable Rival” began with Riveros sporting bright LED goggles. He battled with Stirling. They played off of each other, Riveros shredding his PRS and Stirling giving it back to him. “Roundtable Rival” segued into “Don’t Let This Feeling Fade.” Texas based rapper Lecrae appeared on screen to perform along with the band.

Stirling stepped to the microphone to introduce the song “First Light.” She spoke of how light overcomes the dark, and how positivity overcomes the negative. Fans turned on their cell phone lights and held them high. Turning the amphitheater into a bright night sky.

Once again her dancers joined her on stage for the set-closing “Mirage.” Their attire and dance moves evoked the thoughts of Bollywood musicals. The elaborate light show and dance routine had the crowd on their feet dancing along. It was the perfect song to close with.

Stirling left the stage, but the audience was not leaving or quieting down. She returned to the stage and stepped to the microphone. Lit by the spotlight, she introduced “Guardian,” a song she wrote when her best friend and father passed away from cancer. She explained that they are her guardian angels and that the final song was for them.

Full disclosure here, I am a country, rock and metal fan. Other than a few Google searches for background information, I had no knowledge of Lindsey Stirling before last night. I was absolutely blown away. Take my advice and get out to see her whenever you can. She is a revelation.

Photo Gallery by Claude Sawyer

  1. Rudy says

    Nice Captures Claude!

  2. Timothy Reidy says

    Great Photos here I wish I could have went to town here

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