'Glee' Live 2011: The shrieks shall inherit

Glee-Live

Image Credit: Jonathan Shensa/PR Photos

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?

Read more:
‘Glee’ scoop: Ryan Murphy says he’s planning for the show’s characters to graduate this season
Naya Rivera talks about her upcoming album
‘Glee’ announces new concert tour

Comments (41 total) Add your comment
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  • avells

    I was at the matinee performance and was very impressed! It sounds like they had the same energy level for both shows, WOW!
    I totally agree about not being able to hear the pre-taped messages, but this was def one of my top 3 concerts.
    Hope they come back next year!

  • Captain

    I was in the front row of their first show in Toronto and it was the most amazing experience of my life. I went with my best friend and my mom (who has seen in concert Paul McCartney, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Madonna and Cher) and she said that it was the best concert she’s ever been to. They are phenomenally talented and put on one heck of a show. The stage show is fantastic and the Sue videos/small sketches are a nice touch. I loved all the songs they performed but my highlights were I’m a Slave 4 u, Jessie’s Girl, PYT, Firework and Loser Like Me. It was the most fun two hours I’ve ever experienced and I will definitely be in attendance next year.

  • Caitie F

    I got to go to East Rutherford – it was loud but a lot of fun.

    We got to see Paltrow and Jane lYnch was actually there…which was really cool!

  • Joseph

    It was a disappointment for me. I watched the concert last year at the Gibson Ampitheatre because it was a much smaller venue feeling the connection with the performers. This time around they just take turns in singing their solos and not much group performances. They didn’t perform their mash-up numbers unlike last year. I felt that it was too commercial this year and it was not worth the money I spent for the ticket.

  • Rae

    LOVE the Donnie Darko reference! Hilarious!

  • Hermione

    I couldn’t afford to go so thank you for this little recap. I know I’ll be able to see it in theaters, but still, this recap was appreciated! Sounds like fun!

  • Coady

    I was lucky enough to get tickets to the Boston show, and I had an amazing time! I was so impressed by the raw talent of all the cast members, and I was on my feet, dancing the whole time. I loved how every performance was right after another, no awkward transitions or anything like that. I also loved ‘Im a Slave 4 U’ and ‘Safety Dance’, the dancing was absolutely phenomenal.

  • Me

    Lea Michele — so under-appreciated by fans AND by this critic. Her enthusiasm, stamina, and talent really brought the show up. Best part of Glee Live again this year. However, I do agree that the show in general (much like the TV series) was better last year in the smaller venues. I’m disappointed they didn’t do the Boys VS Girls mashups this year.

    • Truth

      She is the one true live performer of the of group.

    • Lily

      Yeah, I really loved the boys mash up ” stop in the name of love/free your mind”… That would have been very nice… as at least 4 boys (Cory, Chord, Mark and Kevin ) had one line in that song. Oh well, maybe they prefer an accoustic “Friday”… if it is performed.

  • Lynn

    I saw them in Washington DC and enjoyed it. The cast obviously has such a good time performing for the fans, and even though the sound quality at the Verizon theater was horrible, it was fun.

    I loved when Kurt yelled “BRITNEY!” when she was flirting with Blaine and she pouted “oops, I did it again….”

    Cory Monteith playing the drums during “Fat-Bottom Girls” was great.

    Overall great show, but I would have liked to see the mashups since those are generally my favorite songs during the season.

  • Angie

    I saw them at the Izod Center on Friday night. it was a lot of fun. They filmed during both nights in NJ for the movie in August. On Fri, they had to do 2nd takes of Lea/Chris’s duet and the Warbler’s Teenage Dreams. So, we ‘suffered’ through it.

    • Lily

      Angie… you are so fortunate to see those acts twice… any difference in both performances ? And why do many people suspect that the Lea/Chris duet is lipsynched ? Is it because it sounds soo good ?

      • Megan

        Lily, the performances were virtually the same… I believe they probably didn’t get the steps right or didn’t have the right angles on camera… you could never be able to tell the difference… the Lea/Chris duet was definitely NOT lipsynched…Lea and Chris ARE that good…. at least we know the Lea is… don’t we all wish we had that voice and range

      • Lily

        @Megan, Thank you for your comments ! really appreciate !!

  • Siobhan

    I saw the show in Detroit last Monday and it was fantastic. We had great floor seats on the aisle which meant all the cast members passed by us going to and from the smaller stage. Lea Michele did look a little terrified every time she was in the crowd despite her beefy security guards but the rest of the cast seemed to eat it up. My sister and I are in our early thirties and did feel a bit old in that crowd. Especially with the 14 year olds behind us screaming “I love you Cory! Marry me!” every 5 minutes. But I screamed like a teenager at Puck and especially at the dreamy Darren Criss. It’s not often that this stay at home mom of three young children gets to scream at cute boys and act like an idiot for an evening. And watching Chris Colfer do Single Ladies was alone worth the price of admission. One of my favorite parts of the whole night was seeing a boy around 15 or so wearing Kurt’s “Likes Boys” shirt while walking arm and arm with his mom. I love the Glee helped give him the courage to express who he is and be proud of it. It was unheard of when I was in high school to be openly gay and that wasn’t that long ago. Even if you think Glee is stupid and cheesy, if it’s doing even the smallest part to make life easier for kids in high school who feel different then that’s something you have to think is pretty damn cool.

    • Lily

      Thank you very much for your review , seen through the eyes of a 30 something… I wont have the opportunity to watch Glee Live… and the only one I would scream and fangirl over is not present (Jonathan Groff)… but I do agree with you that for me… only watching Chris Colfer doing the “Single Ladies” would be already worth the admission price…Sorry Darren Criss…

      • Frank

        um primeiro episf3dio exdiibo apf3s a final do American Idol, teve uma de suas mfasicas, Don’t Stop Believin’ como a mais baixada dos EUA no dia seguinte e0 sua exibie7e3o. Ate9 hoje, a mfasica continua no TOP

  • Jane

    Lea Michele is such a great live performer. She just was born to do this.

  • Thomas

    How are people still complaining that Naya is underused? Come on folks she is getting plenty. And sh is so lip synching everything. She is one of my favorites but come on she is getting plenty.

    • Scott

      I don’t know if you actually attended a show or not by Naya doesn’t lip synch.

      • jum

        some where lip synched but not all.

      • Jane

        A lot of the concert goers say that she lip synched Valerie and River Deep Mountain High is some shows. So does Dianna in Lucky.

  • Megan

    I was fortunate enough to go to the last show at the Izod Center and the final US show at the Nassau Coliseum… Both completely different experiences and both completely amazing. The izod performance was filmed so everyone in the audience was lucky to see Teenage Dream and Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy performed twice!!!! Overall I loved the each show and completely exceeded my expectations… seeing that i was also at Radio City Music Hall last year and had the pleasure of running into the Vocal Adrenaline crew. love glee and can’t wait for the movie!

  • Patrick

    I saw the show in Indianapolis. I was in the 2nd row in the pit area and was very pleased with the concert. Yeah there was some lip-synching and taped back ground vocals, but I didn’t care. The cast gave great performances. I did the meet and greet (which cost more) and got my picture taken with Kevin McHale. I was disappointed he was the only one that showed up, but from what I heard that was typical at all the shows. I can understand why some of the cast members are relunctant to meet with the fans because you never know how they are going to act. I read about Darren Criss almost getting pulled into the audience. All in all I felt that I got my money’s worth.

    • Lily

      Eh Darren Criss was pulled into the audience…

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