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Concert Review: LAUREN DAIGLE – Resorts World, Las Vegas

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95pts

Price Range : $35 - 120

Concert Date: September 26, 2022 Location: Resorts World – Las Vegas, Nevada

Caught somewhere between Dusty Springfield, Adele and Aretha Franklin, there may not be a more captivating soul singer-songwriter out there than Lauren Daigle at the moment. 

Daigle’s voice is such an instrument that makes you want to hang on to every word which she delivers with absolute conviction. That she is a Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) artist limits her visibility as far as secular pop music charts go, but make no mistake–within the so-called fringe of religious pop music Lauren Daigle is huge. If Instagram is the measure of a modern artist, 2.4 million followers (plus 2.5 million on Facebook), many who devotedly follow her on the road to join her seemingly year-round tours, is an indication of where this singular artist within the CCM genre stands in the early stage of her career. It’s a privilege to catch a talent this developed and musically adventurous, relatively speaking, at this formative era of what will surely be a profound impact on the genre, likely as groundbreaking as the last Christian woman singer to cause a similar sea-change, Amy Grant, who grappled successfully between the religious and the secular.

Seeing Daigle perform at the Resorts World Theatre in Las Vegas may seem incongruous, but placing herself on stage like a fish out of water in the middle of a brand new luxury casino in Sin City is a fascinating context in which to experience her extraordinary music and message. Singing with a very tight six-piece band plus a trio of black-gospel styled backup singers and a New Orleans standard jazz brass-wind trio of trumpet, trombone and sax (Daigle hails from Louisiana)–this is no typical CCM artist. A genre often stuck in anthemic music tropes and lyrical platitudes, Daigle is clearly a fan of R&B and singer-songwriter history–her music evokes church service at the same time as, say, Carole King, Earth, Wind & Fire, aforementioned Aretha (Amazing Grace album period), Mahalia Jackson, Gladys Knight and, yes, fellow contemporary soul singer Adele–that transports her music way beyond the limits of the genre. 

It’s important to note we are talking about an artist who mostly writes her own songs, and not one who is the product of nameless, corporate songwriting teams so responsible for popular music today. And Daigle’s lyrics are infused with deeply invested personal conviction, honesty, humility and authenticity that makes an evening of song a transformative experience. “You Say,” (which she performed on American Idol) is a juggernaut concert highlight, and rightly so. It’s a song that perfectly encapsulates what’s special about a Lauren Daigle concert: beautiful, powerful, soulful vocal delivery; gorgeous song composition with gospel-inflected overtones; lyrical originality and conviction; and sophisticated musical arrangement. “Hold On To Me” (which she performed on The Voice) is another iconic staple in Daigle’s repertoire–with all the signature qualities of a Christian artist who refuses to be a stereotype. 

It must be said that Daigle has a great sense of fashion as well, judging by her eclectic choice of apparel and accoutrements, including innumerable bracelets and headwear–contributing greatly to the artist’s individuality and connection with her audience. She understands what it takes to be big in the secular world of music, and so mastery of social media and fashion-sense are within her arsenal.

A performer’s choice of opening song is key for setting the tone of the evening, and “Look Up Child,” the title track from Daigle’s third album, starts quietly and slowly with a gospel invocation and then seamlessly segues into a reggae beat. It’s a stunning moment of unique individuality that encapsulates the evening. She will proceed to funk it up with “Still Rolling Stones,” a groovier arrangement of “Trust in You,” one of her earliest hits, and a cover of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September.”  She’s also capable of bringing down the house with power ballads “Love Like This,” “Tremble” and show closer “How Can It Be?”–I dare you to not feel the spirit and find God as she sings “…What have I done to deserve love like this?” and “I tremble, Lord, In your presence, In your presence…”

A triumphant night, as we are witness to the most vital and inspiring artist on the Christian music scene today, remarkable for her originality and beloved by so many for her depth, authenticity and faith.

Images source: me, from section Orchestra 4

September 26, 2022

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