Not just an ‘ordinary night’ with Vanessa Carlton

Bethany Dionne

Considering the weather, Alumni Hall was close to full capacity Saturday night as Vanessa Carlton sang about love, life and emotions.

Later than expected, Vanessa Carlton walked on stage with the crowd wildly cheering. She thanked everyone for coming out in the rain and started right away with the song “San Francisco.” After introducing herself, she mentioned she likes to talk and tell stories throughout the shows. The crowd was receptive and laughed along as she talked about various aspects of life, including love, loss, fear and sex. She told personal stories about her own experiences, as well as stories about friends.

Carlton introduced the popular “Ordinary Day” by explaining it has been the only song she’s ever written in one sitting. The crowd sang along as Carlton poured out her emotions. Her voice was strong and powerful as she casually brushed her hair behind her ear while playing the piano with one hand.

The audience laughed and clapped as she sang “Who’s to Say?” a song about people in relationships that are not approved by parents or the government. When she sang her latest hit, “White Houses,” she sang the explicit version and noted she was upset when MTV, VH1 and radio stations censored it, saying it was too explicit in content. Carlton laughed as she said that although other artists can sing explicitly about sex, she thinks hers was censored because of the Janet Jackson “incident” at the Super bowl last year. She sang a few songs, including “Swindler” that have not been on either of her two albums, “Be Not Nobody” and “Harmonium.”

During “Afterglow,” she powerfully pounded the piano. The song was calming and about being free. “Hold me now and see the sun fill the sky. Let me down and see the day has gone by,” she sang with a smile and a sense of release.

Carlton gave the audience a “heads-up” before she sang “Private Radio,” because she had to pre-record part of it and did not want anyone to compare her to Ashlee Simpson and say she does not sing at live shows. The crowd laughed and appreciated her honesty as she sang with a grin. Other songs were about break-ups and how to just say you do not care as you try to move on. “Wanted” was dedicated to a guy she had a crush on, who one day over-reciprocated the feeling and turned creepy. The last few songs were eerie, about death and dead people and one was about vampires and unicorns. The majority of Carlton’s songs were upbeat and happy, but a few had a very deep, dark tone.

Carlton finished her set after about an hour and a half with the song she dislikes playing the most, but knows she has to play at every show for the rest of her life. The crowd went crazy when she started “1000 Miles” and sang loudly throughout the song. The audience wildly applauded and laughed when she mentioned that if she had not dropped out of school, Quinnipiac would have been a fun place to go.

Quinnipiac Law student Brian Paice opened the show with lead vocals and guitar along with Brandon Thibodeau as a backup vocalist, playing guitar and piano. Paice sang his own songs, about a lost love and also two covers of “Free Falling” and the Counting Crows tune “Mr. Jones.” Paice’s songs were mellow, and he let the audience understand his feelings as he sang. The audience clapped along with “Free Falling” and sang parts of the chorus. The crowd laughed as he mentioned copying Dave Matthews’ style of naming songs when he started to sing his own song, called “24.” Paice has a gig at Side Street in Hamden on Thursday, April 14.