SummerWorks Music Series: Maylee Todd
My SummerWorks ticket said bring a beach blanket. Maylee Todd had me like Jerry Maguire with the mention of props at her show. Aware that the concept of the show was a planetarium, I was already ecstatic. I go gaga over the galaxy, and am still lamenting the loss of The McLaughlin Planetarium. A venue I have been to many a time, I wondered how she planned on bringing the stars to my eyes at The Great Hall.
Upon arrival I walked into the main room, went to get my gin, tonic, orange and looked at the scene that, literally, lay in front of me. Picture it: a podium-like sparkling stage surrounded by white balloons had been created, and then erected in its centre. It was encircled by a sea of warmth as patrons lay on blankets, anxiously looking up to the arched white ceiling above, waiting for something to happen. The lights eventually dimmed and the anticipation in the room was felt.
I lay down and was greeted by water-like, yonic images. And then, Maylee surreptitiously approached her stage. Dressed in garb created by her sister, designer Leilanni Todd, she came out like a glittering, pink, mix of Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and mermaid Barbie.
She picked up her medieval sized harp, which I saw as a fitting weapon of choice, and began to sing. As she did, my eyes met more Georgia O’Keeffe like images overhead. With bodies so close to one another they were practically, and in some cases, touching, it was almost like being a part of a secret cult. I speak from experience as the poor gentleman in front of me was completely unaware of my bare toes brushing the crown of head on his hair. Maylee warmed the room and had it opened to listen and see.
What I saw was kaleidoscopic and accompanied perfectly by enthused backup singers and dancers on the upper floor. Images ranged from random patterns to silhouettes of many hands. Then, we all got up close as Maylee’s face was projected into the psychedelic scene above us. It was reminiscent of Phil Collin’s “In the Air Tonight”, and every other awesome hallucinatory music video ever seen. Of course, hers was a far more pleasant face to be affronted with. The visuals continued and by the third song, “No Other”, they were joined by the balloons around stage flickering on and off in perfect succession with her music. It was a spectacle, and just as I was certain that the images above were going to leave me wanting, twinkling stars appeared in the projection. I was fully satisfied.
Excitement arose and a little shuffling about occurred as Maylee got it going with, “Baby’s Got It“, a clear room favourite. Soul-clapping ensued. The high energy continued as she did an on stage wardrobe change… or should I say, strip into something more casual. This did not stop the room from retaining an air of solace, especially when she sang “Did Everything I Could” too beautifully, with absolute ease. After performing a few more songs the show came to a close, but of course, not without the crowd begging for an encore, which she did not disappoint and delivered.
The night was fun, well crafted, and executed. Her album titled Escapology
is named appropriately as its rendition took me to a fantastical place. There was nothing pompous or overblown about it. She managed to give the gig the atmosphere of an acoustic set. Without grandiose the show was provocative and had a feeling of new. Maylee Todd is an apparent artist and gave a truly great and memorable performance that night.