When I boarded a train at Jamaica Station and immediately found myself sitting across from two teenage boys decked out in full Warbler getup — including Dalton blazers and sweaters, despite New York’s 80-degree weather — I began to think that I was in over my head.
We were headed to Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum to see Glee Live!, the show’s second annual concert tour. After this matinee performance and one more show Saturday evening, the cast of Fox’s chart-topping hit would be leaving for Europe — apparently, there’s no rest for the gleeful. I didn’t quite know what to expect… but if the superfans riding the train with me were any indication, the spectacle I was about to witness wouldn’t just be confined to what was happening onstage.
Alas, those Warblers were the most sartorially dedicated Gleeks I spotted all afternoon. Though homemade t-shirts abounded — I saw a ton that read “Team Klaine” and a bunch modeled on the tops the gang sported in the “Born This Way” episode, but just one proclaiming “I <3 Sam” — there didn’t seem to be anyone wearing her finest Sue Sylvester tracksuit or a perfectly matching sweater set, à la Emma Pillsbury (or Rachel Berry). But as I soon found out, this didn’t mean that I should doubt the assembled crowd’s commitment to
Sparkle Motion Glee Live!
Like last year’s shows, the concert began with a performance by the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers. It told the story of two young hoofers who had to defeat a ninja that lived in a book, or something. Muddled narrative aside, the crowd ate up the dancing — or, at least, most of them did. At one point, Greg, the enthusiastic Gleek sitting next to me, decided he had had enough and started yelling “Lea Michele!” impatiently.
Finally, the Legion left the stage — “Follow us on Twitter!” one dancer cried as he disappeared backstage — and the stadium steeled itself for the concert to begin. Several minutes passed. We heard strains of “Don’t Stop Believing,” and then… the screens around the stage filled with the Glee cast’s Chevy commercial. “Stop teasing us!” bellowed an infuriated Greg. “Just start!”
Fifteen minutes later, dancers dressed as Cheerios emerged, carrying official concert tour barf bags. Again, just like last year, their appearance was followed by a pretaped message from none other than Sue Sylvester. The Glee Club’s arch nemesis informed us that we’d need the bags: “I’ve seen it, and the show is bad,” she sniffed. I didn’t catch the rest of her message, though, because soon enough, Will Schuester came onscreen — and the crowd responded by squealing so loudly that whatever he said was almost entirely drowned out.
And that’s when things really got going. The curtain lifted, and the original New Directions — Artie, Kurt, Mercedes, Tina, Finn, and Rachel — turned around one by one. The Coliseum was filled with more flashing lights than a Japanese cartoon circa 1998. Then came the later additions to the club — Brittany, Mike Chang, Sam, Lauren (who was mostly MIA throughout the rest of the show, minus an appearance during “Fat-Bottomed Girls”), Santana (whose name was Autocorrected into “St Stabs” in my notes), Quinn, and, to deafening applause, Puck. They performed exuberant renditions of “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “The Dog Days are Over,” and “Sing” without taking a break, proving that even if Glee‘s songs are overproduced, the cast itself is clearly chock full of talent. Including a long encore, the kids performed a whopping 22 songs during the next hour and 15 minutes or so — and they never let their energy flag.
Overall, Glee Live! was a lot of fun — when the shrieking subsided and I could actually hear what was happening onstage, that is. I did feel pretty bad for Kevin McHale throughout, since performing in character meant that the poor guy was confined to Artie’s wheelchair for the vast majority of the concert. (At least his arms must be pretty ripped by now, right?) And I wish we could have seen more of the Warblers, who gave us just three songs before flying back to the magical land of Dalton “Tolerance Narnia” Academy. I hope those guys from the train felt like they got their money’s worth.
Other highlights of the show:
– Heather Morris’ tour de force “I’m a Slave 4 U,” as well as her phenomenal dancing during an encore number set to “Single Ladies.” (Guess she didn’t have to learn any new choreography for that one.) I am in awe of that girl’s talent.
– Watching beefy security guards physically restrain the crowd every time a male cast member walked through the audience. Too bad they couldn’t ask them to lower their screams by a few decibels.
– An extremely literal performance of “Firework,” complete with actual fireworks going off at the end.
– Sue’s video introduction for the Warblers: “And now, from some private school somewhere, or something… ”
– The sad, solo Cheerio who had to dance by herself on a platform in the middle of the audience during “River Deep, Mountain High.”
– Blaine and Kurt’s cute spoken interlude, in which Kurt finally proposed… that Blaine join the Glee Club. Before revealing that punchline, Chris Colfer mentioned that a certain law had just been passed in New York, which really got the crowd excited. Unfortunately, his news was a little premature; the state senate’s same sex marriage vote has been delayed.
– Santana’s big solo number, “Valerie,” which reminded me how underused Naya Rivera’s vocals are on the show.
– And, the big finish: “Somebody to Love,” a beautiful song I had totally forgotten was an entry in the Glee catalogue. Yes, it’s lame that Mercedes is often relegated to belting out big notes at the end of group numbers. But man, is she good at doing that!
Did you see the concert, PopWatchers? If so, what were your highlights and lowlights? And if you also saw last year’s show, how do you think Glee Live! 2011 compared to the original?