CARMEL — Its stage has hosted some of the biggest names in entertainment, and like virtually every other venue, it has been mostly silent for more than a year. But with the pandemic's impact starting to go down and vaccines starting to go up, the music is finally beginning to flow once again. This weekend, the Palladium in Carmel completes its rebound with a familiar face playing his first in-person concert in more than a year.
"What's a live audience?" Michael Feinstein's joke is only part-tongue in cheek. He would be the first to tell you that he is not a fan of Zoom, and like other musicians, playing live music just isn't the same without being able to see and hear the people you're playing it for.
"I feed off the audience," Feinstein told WRTV days before he takes the stage at one of his home venues.
"The energy I get from the audience deeply affects how I sing a song; how I phrase it, how I interpret it emotionally."
As the artistic director for The Center For The Performing Arts in Carmel, it seems fitting that the performer who dedicated the stage of the Center's showcase venue — The Palladium — a decade ago, headline the return of its signature concert series following its COVID hiatus. "The Center Presents:" series will resume Saturday when Feinstein and his special guest, 1970's hitmaker Melissa Manchester, not only play, but also play with guests in some of the Palladium's seats.
"Just the feel of the atmosphere, the connection with the audience completely dictates how that song is going to be interpreted," Feinstein said.
The Center has been hosting concerts during the time crowds were not allowed. Several shows have been live-streamed from the stage of the Palladium and The Center's other venues, including a holiday concert in December featuring Feinstein and (remotely from her home) gospel legend Sandi Patty. The Center has also given several local bands the chance to be streamed live, delivering some badly needed paychecks to dozens of musicians at a time when they were scarce. Even Saturday evening's show will be live-streamed since seating is extremely limited due to ongoing COVID precautions - Feinstein and The Center added a second, matinee show at 3:00pm Saturday, with limited tickets still available.
The Carmel Symphony Orchestra played the first in-person Palladium concert earlier this year, and Feinstein says the return of The Center Presents series with a live audience is a reminder of the preciousness of human connection and interaction.
"(The pandemic) has given us the opportunity to have, I believe, collectively a greater appreciation for art and what it gives to our souls. Now, more than ever, we need art and we need music to create the unity that we've missed in so many other ways."
Tickets to the matinee performance (while they last) and to the streaming concert at 8:00 p.m. Saturday are available at The Center Presents website.