Above and Beyond Spectacular
This may well be the most biased recap of the week. I’m not apologizing, just warning you. My attitude toward anything BYU tends to border on mawkish, but the lessons I learned as a student there were for a lifetime, and not all of them were academic. Oh, I intend to write the truth, but don’t expect objectivity.
My mother attended BYU. She left their farm in Idaho and headed to Provo with only $25 and plenty of moxie. In time, she was followed by me, my daughters, and now, a granddaughter. Like most beginning college students, I was surprised to find that life actually improved after high school. This realization happened for me at BYU, so I kind of bleed blue that way. Part of my spectacular weekend was spent with a former roommate whom I love like a sister. We shared the good, the bad and the hysterically funny in college, and in the decades since. There is no catch-up lag when we get together, and it will always be that way. Blessing counted.
The next blessing came as we navigated safely through the necessary but perpetual road construction between Salt Lake City and Provo to be at the BYU concerts. Although my husband had trouble grasping the concept of attending the same song-and-dance program two nights in a row, he was nevertheless an agreeable participant. Plus, he was eager to see the remodeling changes in the Marriott Center where previous events required patrons to sit for hours with their knees tucked firmly under their chins.
As we waited in line to enter, I couldn’t help but notice the span of ages represented in the crowd, something like age 2 to 102, and a near even ratio of male to female. To our geriatric relief, the seating inside was much improved, comfortable even. The changes reduced the capacity to 19,000, but it is still a cavernous venue where one might easily imagine the audience as bats hanging from the rafters. OK, maybe that’s just weird me. Anyway, the stage setup required for these performances reduced the seating capacity even further and meant that some folks paid money to sit way off to the side and gaze at David’s profile most of the night, not such a bad deal after all.
I do believe my dear hubby could have a conversation with an empty chair, with every expectation that said chair would eventually become occupied by a likeminded soul willing to exchange ideas or just listen. This was exactly the case on Night One. An unsuspecting gentleman sat down next to my husband who soon began regaling him with stories about the life and times of a dedicated David Archuleta fan, namely you-know-who. The poor guy kept leaning forward to get a good look at the crazy old lady who would go to such extremes—and for so many years—to hear this Archuleta kid sing. With each glance my direction, I tried to slither further down into my chair while I fantasized about “Invisibility” being my superpower of choice. One thing is certain. The highly amused and willing listener will be sharing my fan adventures with other strangers yet to be determined. On Night Two, as hubby was taking his seat, I put on my best “don’t-mess-with-me” face and issued a two-word ultimatum: “No chatting.”
Shortly before the concert began, I thought of the times David told fans how he preferred smaller and more intimate venues. So, how does one (small-ish) person begin to harness a crowd estimated at 10,500? No problem. Like a never-fail branding strategy, one chorus of “Crush” did the trick and we were off and running. David then introduced the guitarist and segued into an impeccable and haunting version of “Imagine.” Oh my! Even his vocal nuances had nuances. With all due respect for his musical prowess, we should probably refer to him as “Mr. Archuleta” from here on out.
Our BYU coed granddaughter joined us for Night Two. Both nights were completely enjoyable and moved quickly, perhaps too quickly. There were subtle differences between the two performances, but no arguing over preferences, only the fun of reading fan recaps/comments, and the joy of watching it all over again, curtesy of a few skilled and clandestine videographers (Thank you!).
The minute David came out on stage on Night One, my husband nudged me with his elbow. I was sure it was his way of sharing this much-anticipated moment with me; and it was, sort of. He leaned over and whispered excitedly, “Chukka Boots!!”
David really dug into “Nunca Pense” with the Women’s Chorus. He was feeling the Spanish, and by Night Two, he had installed yet another upgrade into his salsa moves. Night Two also offered the now-famous blue fan flip, followed by some swooning from a few chorus members.
“Parachutes and Airplanes” was a curious set list choice, but how fun was that?!? I was happy for a Night Two repeat, and happy for the cute family sitting behind us whose three small children were following David’s instructions to “get out of your seat and move.”
“Everybody Hurts,” and everybody has, or will. David owns that song now, but he sure knows how to share it. Exquisite. “Glorious” and “Nearer My God to Thee” followed suit.
I took a scientific poll, asking, “What were your three favorite songs in order of preference?” Two people responded. (Ha!) Husband: Nearer My God to Thee, Everybody Hurts, Parachutes and Airplanes. Granddaughter: Nearer My God to Thee, Parachutes and Airplanes, Imagine & Everybody Hurts (tie). If asked, I would put Nearer My God to Thee at the top; but after that, the order changes, depending on which video I am re-watching.
How smart was BYU to 1) invite David Archuleta to Homecoming, and then, 2) have David sing with some of the school’s favorite performance groups? Summa cum laude smart methinks. I loved it! I loved it all; but my sentimental favorite has to be David with Vocal Point (a cappella magnifico), and I need to linger here a bit to explain.
Oldest Daughter was at BYU and working her way through a Piano Performance and Pedagogy Major when two guy friends asked for her help with “a great idea.” Subsequently, the three of them held auditions and Vocal Point was born. Oldest Daughter was Vocal Point’s Artistic Director for the first two years. They were an instant hit on campus and soon became an official and accredited part of BYU’s School of Music. Not surprisingly, our family has followed them, supported them, and even hosted them when they toured through Boise.
This history should explain why (no matter where you live) you may have heard my audible joy when I learned that Vocal Point would be teaming up with David Archuleta during the Homecoming Spectacular. In my world, this was like the cream of the crop singing with the crème de la crème. Oh yeah! Rich stuff. I couldn’t get there fast enough.
As a university ensemble, Vocal Point has plenty of personnel turnover—graduation, missions, other situations—but these seem to occur without a diminishing return on talent or verve. Plus, the alumni are like family, bonded by the experience. They stay in touch; they even have “family reunions.”
The current Vocal Point director is McKay Crockett, a very talented musician who sang with the group for four years (You might recognize him if you watched Vocal Point compete in The Sing Off). At my request, Oldest Daughter contacted McKay to get his reaction to Vocal Point’s experience with David Archuleta. His most excellent response follows:
“First of all, David is world class. He’s as kind, gracious, and humble as you’d imagine. And, MAN, can he sing.
“One of the most rewarding parts of the week was getting to see David and the guys become friends over the course of the run. I think they hit it off right away because they have so much in common—they’re young college-aged guys who believe music should be used to uplift and edify others. David was so complimentary of the guys, which meant so much because of the caliber of singer David is.
“We gave David a few of our albums and a VP [Vocal Point] hat and t-shirt on dress rehearsal night. Closing night he was sporting both the VP hat and t-shirt all evening at the Marriott Center before the show. We’ve even seen the VP hat show up in a few of his social media pics since then too.
“I feel like a great relationship was formed. And based on the reaction we’ve seen both at the show and on the web, I think people would really love to see these guys do something together again. I know I wouldn’t be opposed. “
–McKay Crockett, Director
BYU Vocal Point
My response: Holy Duet, Hatman! Let’s do this!
Travel-size David in VP gear.
At every David Archuleta concert, there are always two things that happen for me. The first is my uncanny inability to meet fans whose names I see on Twitter or fan sites nearly every day. It is true that the Provo venue made this difficult to do once again, but no excuses. Look me up at Tuacahn, OK?
Second, there are always people at the concert who have not heard David sing live before. Sometimes they are easy to spot, and when I do, I try to keep an eye out, hoping to witness their reactions once David starts in. There is usually a jaw-dropping gesture of some kind, followed by a speechless but wide-eyed look toward someone else who will confirm that they really heard what they thought they heard. It happened in Idaho Falls; it happened in Layton, and it happened again at the BYU Homecoming Spectacular. I never get tired of seeing it.
When David told his story in Idaho Falls and finally said, “I think I can do this again,” he could have easily added “and I think you will be glad you waited around for it.” Uh huh. I already am.
[Thanks to muldur & shelley for the awesome videoooos! and the lovely and amazing @rhiminee for the gifs!!!]