Bobby McFerrin in Concert

On St. Patrick’s day, my brother Billy and I went to see Bobby McFerrin in concert at the Birchmere. Tickets were pretty expensive (65 a piece before fees), so the parking lot was less than half full when we arrived at 7:00pm. I found a section of the parking lot that I didn’t even know existed, around behind the building. We sat up the right side almost at the front table. We were directly to the right of the stage, about 20 feet away from the performer.

First off, to answer your question: no, he did not sing “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”

The opening act was not worth mentioning. It was the most non-distinctive music I’ve ever heard. They were country songs sung in a non-country style, a white guy and a black girl. They were nice though and the crowd seemed to like them.

Apparently I’m a bigger Bobby McFerrin fan than I realized; I knew just about every song he sang, and I knew the live versions, too. I think he’s been doing the same show for the past 25 years. Same songs, everything.

Highlights from his set list:

Wizard of Oz (whole movie condensed to <8mins) But beyond the concert, he was just so cool! He would assign different sides of the room different refrains to sing and then point to you when you were supposed to sing with him. He had a portion of the show where he had an extra microphone and anyone could just come up and sing with him. Mostly younger people came up, and most of them were excellent vocalists. Kind of hard to sound bad when Bobby McFerrin is singing backup. People sang classical pieces, oldies, anything they wanted. One kid sang Journey. He also took volunteers from the crowd and formed a choir of 20 people, assigned them different parts, and conducted them while singing lead. He even called the opening act back up to sing a song with them. He was quite generous with his time and his talents. The encore was just a Q&A session with the crowd. Most of the questions were good, and most of them had interesting answers. It was really good. I'd recommend going to see him once in your life, but it seems a repeat viewing could get old, as he has been doing the same thing for 20+ years and will most likely continue to do so. It's an interesting way to think about music, all with one voice. Sometimes what he's doing is akin to beatboxing, but he never tries to emulate the sound of instruments. His voice is the instrument, and he doesn't try to make it sound like something that it's not. Overall it was truly excellent, and will ever-so-slightly change the way I perceive music forevermore.

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