It’s been almost a year since any of us have experienced live music and all of us can’t wait for its return. The rush, the energy, the wall of sound and feeling of community. There’s really nothing like seeing one of your favourite acts live. Many of us here at 4YE have had the honour of seeing Darren Criss perform in concert and there’s nothing that quite compares. Whether you have seen him live or had to wait impatiently watching recordings on YouTube hoping he’ll one day stop by somewhere close to where you live, we can all agree that he is one spectacular showman.
In honour of his 34th birthday today, we here at 4YE want to celebrate with a look back at some of our favourite live performances. We’ve made it extra hard on ourselves by only allowing one performance of each song (otherwise you’re likely to get 10 different versions of “Teenage Dream” or “Going Back to Hogwarts” or “Cough Syrup”). No doubt you’ll agree and disagree with some of our choices, and please feel free to hit us up with some of your favourites, but we hope you enjoy these picks and hopefully soon we can get back out and see him live again shortly.
Happy birthday Darren!!!
“Teenage Dream” – Toronto, ON 12/06/13
This is probably the most popular song that fans want to hear Darren play live and I can’t think of a concert where he hasn’t played it. For many this performance in Toronto as part of his Listen Up concert tour in 2013 is THE live version. The emotion, the way he plays around with the arrangement, the whole energy of the piece is so electric – even more amazing since he was sick as a dog during this gig. Credit to lizjhpark for the video.
“To Have a Home” – Huntington, NY 26/06/13
I think this is just such a beautiful song from A Very Potter Sequel. It’s a great song to belt out (and Darren does it so well) but it also tugs at those old heartstrings. What I love about this performance is that about 1:15 in to the song, Darren spots a caterpillar on his piano and so stops playing to let everyone know. He proceeds to take some shots of the critter before picking right up where he left off. This is so adorable and so Darren to me. I may have an audio version of this and every time I hear it come on I can’t help but smile and chuckle along with Darren. Credit to typegirl24 for the video.
“Cough Syrup” – Sydney, NSW 18/05/18
This is one of my all time favourite covers that Darren has done. I loved it on Glee and I have loved the versions I’ve seen live. This one is a particular fave; it’s from his concert in my hometown. I love the stripped down acoustic version of this song as you really get to hear Darren. It’s raw, it’s emotional, it’s intimate and the string quartet is just gorgeous. Credit to Clare Sidoti for the video.
“Somewhere Only We Know” – London, UK 20/04/18
Like the Sydney concert, this London gig was small and intimate and he pulled off this stunning version of “Somewhere Only We Know” accompanied by the string quartet. Lit by a single white spotlight, this is almost a religious experience what he does with this song here. It just takes your breath away. Credit to Perry O’Bree for the video.
“Wait for It” – ElsieFest NY, 5/10/19
It was only a matter of time until Darren covered a Hamilton song at ElsieFest – it’s the perfect vehicle for him to do it – and he didn’t disappoint. I love the emotion in this but also how much fun he’s having with the song. 2019 was a great ElsieFest year for Darren. Credit to ineedahero for the video.
“Wig in a Box” – ElsieFest, NY 5/10/19
ElsieFest always brought us some amazing collaborations however this trio will probably be one of the best we ever had from the musical theatre festival. Reuniting Darren with his Hedwig and the Angry Inch co star, the incredibly talented Lena Hall, AND being joined by the OG Hedwig and creator of the smash musical John Cameron Mitchell himself. Watching this amazing performance of one of the most iconic songs from the show was just everything and we didn’t know where to look with so much talent on stage. The performance was also filled with great energy with all three ex Hedwigs playing so well off each other. Credit to jenn the broadway nerd for the video.
“Not Alone” – Kids Inaugural: Our Children, Our Future Concert, Washington, DC 19/01/13
Like with “Teenage Dream” it is so hard to choose a favourite live version of “Not Alone”. There are so many wonderful performances of it out there and it’s a song that means so much to so many Darren fans and each version has a special place in our hearts. I’ve chosen the performance from the Kids Inaugural concert that was part of Obama’s second inauguration celebrations. Firstly, you just can’t pass up Darren in a suit. Secondly, the honour to perform at this event is so evident in his performance and with the Walt Whitman’s Soul Children of Chicago supporting him, the hope, love and strength in the song just flows out. Credit to fireboltgymnast for the video.
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