REVIEW: Lindsey Stirling is Something Wild

Lindsey Stirling, the singing, dancing violinist who went from YouTube famous to being thoroughly panned on America’s Got Talent to world star brought her Brave Enough tour to NYC’s Hammerstein Ballroom on Friday night in support of her latest album by the same name. Now, here at Soundboard Magazine, we’re metalheads to the bone and I myself will be buried with my horns up, but I’ve also always been a fan of Lindsey Stirling. Call it a guilty pleasure if you will, but I appreciate good music and as I get older, I find my tastes changing. That said, I’ve always wanted to see and photograph Lindsey Stirling, and I got to do both on a Friday night in Manhattan – yeah, that sounds like a weird way to spend a Friday night in the city that never sleeps, but it was worth every second.

The night began with Shawn Hook opening up, and his set seemed to be abruptly cut short after his guitarist fell through the stage. I’m not really sure who he is, but he’s insanely talented and was definitely a fine choice as support. The main attraction, of course, was Lindsey Stirling, whose performance is equal parts theater and music, though it’s widely accepted by fans and press alike that she is nothing short of phenomenal despite being told on AGT that she sounded like rats being strangled and that she wasn’t talented enough to fly through the air while playing violin – what the hell do Piers Morgan and Howie Mandel know about music anyway?

Lindsey would start us off with a track off Brave Enough called The Phoenix while flying around the stage from jump street, and would ultimately play 9 of her new songs, though none are the quite the same without the vocals that accompany some of them on the album. For instance, while Something Wild is easily one of my favorite songs by any artist in any genre, I was really, really hoping for at least an Andrew McMahon backing track while Lindey played it live. Sadly, this was not to be, and while it’s a great song nonetheless, I feel the vocals on the studio track contribute too much to the music to have them noticeably absent. Another great song that has incredible vocals – Shatter Me – the epic Lizzy Hale-fronted track was also played on this night, but also lacked at least a backing track with Lizzy’s vocals attached to it. That was to be expected, but I know Lindsey has used backing tracks in the past and I was really hoping for at least a couple on this night given the sheer number of collaborations she did for Brave Enough.

The lack of vocal accompaniment did nothing to take away from the overall performance, however. After all, what you’re paying to see is the choreographed dance routines set to the incomparable violin stylings of a girl who was never supposed to be able to do it according to a couple of dudes who barely made it as TV hosts and are in no way qualified to judge music. Music aside, her theatrics and acrobatics are something to behold. The fact that she’s able to play violin while being literally everywhere at what feels like the same time is incredible. Oh, and then she brings her dog out to do tricks on stage between songs, and occasionally her lighting guy messes with her by turning the lights out while she’s talking.

After Something Wild, Lindsey played Gavi’s Song – the song written and dedicated to late keyboardist Jason Gaviati, who died nearly a year ago after fighting lymphoma. Other offerings included Those Days, which on the album features country duo Dan + ShayHold My Heart which features ZZ WardThe Arena and Lost Girls rounded out the tracks from Brave Enough. On a night that featured many choreographed dance routines and other musicians coming out to help out with piano, drums or guitar, Lindsey Stirling’s violin-playing ability is what stood out the most.

That sounds weird coming from a guy who was baptized by fire with AC/DC’s Back in Black at 5 years old. Who would have thought I’d be into Lindsey Stirling 25 years later, much less giving up my Friday night to go see her live at a venue that was heavily occupied by mothers and their daughters? By the time it was all over – one last dance routine with all of her dancers on stage together, of course – Lindsey had played about 18 songs over an hour and 45 minutes or so, and definitely gave fans their money’s worth. Lindsey Stirling does not, and will not, disappoint. If you’ve thought about seeing her life, what are you waiting for? If you’ve seen her live before, you already know you should do it again.

Me personally? This was my first time seeing Lindsey Stirling, and I cannot wait for her to come to town again. I’ll be at every one of her NYC shows until she decides to hang up her violin. Go check out the photo gallery below.

Lindsey Stirling performs at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom
Lindsey Stirling performs at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom