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Story and photos by Jennifer BronenkantRachael Yamagata immediately grabbed the audience's attention when she quietly entered the stage and sang her mournful song "Elephants." Alone and with falling hair mostly obscuring her face, it was as if she were totally immersed in her own world and singing to no one at all. The melancholy piece ended with the warning, "So for those of you falling in love/Keep it kind, keep it good, keep it right/Throw yourself in the midst of danger/But keep one eye open at night." The arresting lyrics and presentation set the mood for the evening.
An intimate atmosphere on stage was created with a generous amount of twinkly lights, combined with paper lanterns, floral and greenery along with paper parasols. The candlelit cabaret setting at Turner Hall Ballroom further enhanced the mood for the night.
Yamagata was joined by her band as she went on to perform more of her deeply personal songs. Contrary to the sadness of most of her lyrics, Yamagata was rather upbeat and engaging as she spoke often to the audience throughout out the show. She talked about how the last few years had been a sort of roller coaster for her. At one point she said she had even reconsidered whether she should continue in music, expressing the very human self doubt that people would figure out that she was really a fake after all. She expressed her pleasure on the reception by the audience to her return to touring and thanked them for being so sweet. But never fear, lovers of all things melancholy, as she assured the audience "Don't worry, I'm not happy - just less sad."
Yamagata performed a variety of songs from all three of her albums alternating between playing guitar and keyboards backed by a three piece band that included her opening act Mike Viola. The band took a break during her touching solo of "Full On" from her latest album Chesapeake.
Although, Yamagata had expressed concerns about whether her fans would still be there for her, there was no need to worry. Her honest personality along with her beautifully sung music was welcomed with open arms in Milwaukee this night.
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