‘Twas a Friday before Christmas, when all through The Vic, every fan was wondering what songs would be picked; the stockings were hung by the keyboard with care, as the evening’s headliner soon would be there.
On Friday, Dec. 7, Ingrid Michaelson helped Chicago get into the Christmas spirit with a sold-out show at The Vic Theatre. From the festively decorated stage – complete with holiday mugs, Christmas trees and the above-mentioned stockings – to the setlist filled with holiday classics from Michaelson’s latest release, Songs for the Season, every detail of the performance encouraged fans to embrace a night of festive fun.
The vintage vibes began with an opening message delivered via an old-fashioned victrola before Michaelson led her trio – featuring Allie Moss and Hannah Winkler – in a holly-jolly version of “Looks Like a Cold, Cold Winter.” With fistfuls of snowflakes in hand, they soon segued into “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!;” their Andrews Sisters-esque harmonies serving as gifts for the soul.
After a minor choreography misstep, Michaelson joked that everything she knows about dance was learned from a childhood performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” and encouraged everyone to cheer when the move made its triumphant return later in the show. As promised, deafening applause erupted when the trio once again rose their jazz hands over their heads, this time perfectly completing the sequence during “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”
Michaelson invited her boyfriend, Broadway actor and Nashville star Will Chase, to join her in a romantic rendition of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” The couple traded verses on the tender duet – Chase’s velvety vocals perfectly complimenting Michaelson’s soulful singing – which seamlessly transitioned into a delicate solo interpretation of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by Michaelson. Accented by her delicate and emotive phrasings, the poignant performance pulled on each and every holiday heartstring.
Of course, Michaelson weaved a number of fan favorites into the set including “Be OK” – which began with an impromptu call and response, play-that-holiday tune introduction – “Winter Song,” and “You and I,” during which Michaelson invited the evening’s opener Jenna Nicholls to join the trio for some singing and spooning. As a prologue to her infectious hit “The Way I Am,” Michaelson shared a newly minted backstory for the song inspired by a response to a commenter on social media.
“You know the type,” Michaelson joked.
The depth and thoughtfulness of Michaelson’s previously released compositions melded with the spirit of the holidays when the songwriter stepped behind her keyboard to share “Happy, Happy Christmas,” an original tune written for Songs for the Season. Love, sadness, regret and hope whirled together in bittersweet beauty as Michaelson sang of passing time and seized moments. In a concert full of high points, “Happy, Happy Christmas” stood as the pinnacle of the performance.
“I’ve lived some life,” Michaelson said of the song noting the importance of mourning losses while still holding on to the things that bring each of us joy. “You can always choose joy. It’s there for you.”
Head over to Ingridmichaelson.com to view Michaelson’s remaining 2018 tour dates.