“I call it my nerd medley,” Lindsey Stirling explained to the crowd at downtown Phoenix’s Comerica Theatre Thursday night after performing her own blend of the themes to video games The Legend of Zelda, Skyrim, Dragon Age, Halo, and Assassin’s Creed. She thanked her longtime gamer fans as well as the rest of the concertgoers for the warm welcome back to her hometown.
And that was just the middle of the 90-minute set featuring 18 songs, four costume changes, two medleys, and one violinist extraordinaire. Stirling, in a shimmering silver leotard, spun right into it, twirling and leaping across the stage to opener “Ascendence.” The rest was roughly half newer tracks from sophomore album Shatter Me and half older cuts from her eponymous debut.
In case her manic fairy-like movements did not provide enough to watch, the screen backdrop, props, and backup dancers supplemented each track to add to the emotions Stirling said she hopes her music evokes. For her backdrops, Stirling favored vibrant colors, silhouettes, and accompanying videos. “I’m a bit of a film nerd,” she admitted, saying she often thinks of the music video before even writing a song. Her troupe of backup dancers from all over the country mimicked her moves, and props like screens and even moving headstones (“Moon Trance”) added to the spectacle. However, the majority of the stage was Stirling’s to command, and command she did. She kicked, she stomped, she shook her hips, swishing the tutu-like tail of her dress. She made a blur of her bow, she sang, she dueled her keyboardist, Jason Gaviati, for Western-reminiscent “Roundtable Rival.” She proved she is not just a violinist, not just a musician or a composer, but a performer.
The people in the crowd were older the farther you looked toward the back of the venue — tweens packed in as close as possible to the stage, omnipresent cell phones in the air, while formally dressed middle-aged fans sat quietly in their seats. Despite the age range, every facial expression was the same: utterly mesmerized.
Stirling had the crowd hooked on her next move even through a short struggle with her looping machine, which she referred to as her “new toy” for the tour. She graciously thanked her violin tech — the sexiest one we’ve ever seen, she bet — and resumed.
Stirling moves with absolute confidence on stage, but she was not always so self-assured. Toward the end of her performance, Stirling took the time to address the depression that had emotionally crippled her years ago. A motivational speaker in her spare time, she shared the story of overcoming her unhappiness and stressed the importance that each person does the same: “To be happy, that is the greatest fight you can fight for in your life.” The rest of the set was similarly uplifting. In particular, the backdrop of “Transendence” featured a video with words like “empowerment,” “hope,” and “courage” appearing on screen. And “Crystalize” began with a video about scientific proof that positivity has a lasting, beneficial effect. Watching her, you can see that Stirling found happiness playing her violin. The smiles of pure joy that broke through her concentration gave it away.
Last Night: Olivia Somerlyn, Lights, and Lindsey Stirling
The Crowd: Mostly adult couples dressed up for date night, groups of teens scattered throughout, and the one tall loud man in the GA pit who took every opportunity to exclaim his love for the performers. Also, most likely, someone in costume dressed as a character from one of the games in the “nerd medley.” Stirling said it tends to happen.
Shouted During Lights’ Set: “Marry me!” by both guys and girls. Right on.
Preaching: You’ve heard one artist saying Be Yourself, you’ve heard them all. (Luckily, Stirling wasn’t over the top, but the message is still a tired one.)
“Master of Tides”
“Electric Daisy Violin”
Video game medley
“Song of the Caged Bird”
“Beyond the Veil”
Phantom of the Opera medley