PJ loves Natalie Merchant, so, for his birthday this year, I bought us tickets to see herĀ  in Chicago last week. We’ve been listening to her new album of poetry for children set to music. I wasn’t completely into it, I have to say, so I was really surprised by how blown away I was by the concert. Merchant’s performance for the better part of three hours was simply amazing. It was one of the best concerts — if not the best concert — I’ve ever been to. Merchant was brilliant!

Here’s an explanation of what she’s doing in the album:

We saw her in the Chicago Theatre, which is a great venue. The first part of the concert was all songs from the new album. Instead of a traditional encore, she did a second set of some of her greatest hits and fan favorites.

What impressed me about the concert was two things. First, I really admired her commitment to teaching us a little bit about the poets whose words she’s set to music. She didn’t go into full-fledged lectures or anything, but she gave us a little tidbit about each poet’s life or poetry, something interesting and relevant to the poem. She also presented us with a PowerPoint presentation that had pictures of each poet and in a couple of cases illustrations that went along with the poems.