Imelda May at The Birchmere

It is obviously no secret that I love live music and music in general. My husband does not share my deep, abiding love for going to concerts. Over the past 10 years that we’ve been together I’ve forced him to go to countless concerts with me. Last night was the first time he has ever initiated us going to a concert. So who may you ask inspired him to want to go to a concert? Well if you read the subject of this than you probably already know, but it was Imelda May. She’s an Irish rockabilly singer. I had not been familiar with her prior to the concert, but I enjoyed her. She had a great energy, was great at talking to the crowd in a humorous way, and trying to get the crowd into the show. You know I always love a good cover song at a concert, and for the first song of her encore she came out on stage with just one of her band members who played the ukelele and she sang a cover of Blondie’s “Dreaming”. It was great.

I do wish that the concert had been at a different venue though, and not just because it’s a trek from Baltimore to Alexandria, VA where The Birchmere is. It was my first time at the Birchmere and I don’t really have much reason to want to go back. It’s a seated venue, but it’s not theatre style. Instead there are rows of 6 person tables that you sit at and can order food and drink though you are not required to. We ordered dinner, which though it was a little on the expensive side was actually much better than I was anticipating. The chairs were very uncomfortable though and there wasn’t much space between tables or chairs so I felt very crammed in. The tables on the sides where we were sitting are situated such that one half of the people at the table have to sit with their backs to the stage or crane awkwardly around to watch the concert, which seems awful. Luckily we both got chairs facing the stage. By the time we were done with dinner and the show was ready to start I was already extremely uncomfortable and so didn’t enjoy the show as much as I might have because I spent the entirety of it thinking about how much I wanted to get out of that chair. Additionally it’s the type of music that lends itself to moving and dancing around, so it was very strange to be stuck sitting at a table. You couldn’t really stand up even if you wanted to because there was no room and even the few people seated on aisles who tried were told to sit down by the staff because they were blocking the view for other people.

Baltimore Soundstage has a very similar set up. I’m pretty sure they bought their tables and chairs from the same people because it was literally the same awful black chairs in both venues. I felt the same way about The Birchmere as I felt about that, which was that I didn’t like it. Maybe if I managed to see a subdued act where you’re inclined to be seated it might be better, but both times I’ve been to these places I’ve seen acts that are very vibrant and demand to be danced to. Both acts seemed flummoxed by the fact that they were playing and people were just sitting in their seats staring at them. Definitely not my choice for a good place to see a concert. It would take someone really special for me to drive all the way back to The Birchmere again.

I was intrigued by the audience that was at this show though. Imelda May is 40 years old and yet the majority of people there were people my parents age or older. There was a lot of gray hair there. There were also a fair number of families with children, which is not something I’m used to seeing at most of the concerts I attend. I’m a big fan of kids at appropriate venues, which I would say The Birchmere is one, because I’m all for passing the love of live music on to the next generation. I totally expected the audience to be full of hipster type people, and though there were a couple of those that was not really at all who it was composed of.

Overall it was a good show at a less than ideal place. Hopefully my husband enjoyed it, since there was a long build up to him wanting to go to a concert.

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