Over the Christmas holidays, we went to the Distillery District. I picked up a flyer in a store where we were browsing and it showed that Natalie Merchant, one of my favourite female singers from the 1990’s, was going to perform at the Royal Conservatory of Music Family Concert Series in Toronto. The series is tailored towards 6-13 year olds and because we’ve taken our kids to the theatre since they were small, I figured they’d be able to handle a children’s concert.
I gave it a bit of thought, then bought the tickets for the May 2 show, which would feature music and poetry from the “Leave Your Sleep” book and CD.
The adult concert on the Friday night was sold out and I would have preferred to hear Natalie Merchant’s hit songs (such as “Jealousy” and “Carnival”) but I wanted to share the experience with my family. The concert took place at Koerner Hall, which is attached to the Telus Royal Conservatory of Music on Bloor Street in Toronto. I don’t know how many times I’ve walked past this building, and never paid any attention to it before. It is absolutely beautiful inside!
The show was surprisingly long, lasting almost 2 hours and with no intermission. My 5-year-old son fell asleep almost immediately, as the show kicked off with lullabies set to PowerPoint slides. It was a strange concert, unlike any children’s show I’ve ever seen. Natalie Merchant has an excellent, ethereal quality to her voice but she lacked the enthusiasm to sustain the attention of young children. Here’s a short clip to illustrate my point.
The kids seemed to like the conductor’s presentation of the orchestra, which allowed for some audience participation. In short, it’s probably best if you are familiar with the performer’s material before splashing out on tickets for your kids. I should have bought “Leave Your Sleep” before the concert to familiarize them with the music and get them excited, instead of after the show.
I can’t call the following a true setlist because it may not be the exact order in which the songs were performed but it’s the best I can do from memory.
Songs Performed by Natalie Merchant at Koerner Hall, Toronto – May 2, 2015:
The Sleepy Giant
Vain and Careless
Conductor – Explanation of a Chamber Orchestra/Solos/Audience Conductor
The Land of Nod
The King of China’s Daughter
The Blind Men and the Elephant
Audience participation – Old Mother Hubbard and Her Dog Revisited
Maggie and Milly and Molly and May
Adventures of Isabel
If No One Ever Marries Me
The Janitor’s Boy
(Audience request for “Ice Cream Store”) A few bars of Bleezer’s Ice Cream