At the end of July, Vanessa Carlton will play Irving Plaza, but last night she gave up nine songs for a couple dozen “VIP” guests in a West Village loft. The event, billed as a “salon” — there were cocktails and a Q&A session, though (we imagine) fewer instances of syphilis than in the gatherings of seventeenth-century France — was put on by Culture Catch, a Website that turns such things into podcasts. It was probably the closest we will ever get to having 50 Cent perform at our daughter’s sweet sixteen. Carlton sat at a piano — facing her only accompanist, a guy on violin — and cursed, burped, and giggled her way through a charming set that included her biggest hit, “A Thousand Miles.” Well, to be fair, she burped, inaudibly, only once and cursed a couple of other times only when she had to restart a song. It was totally understandable.
Played inside somebody’s living room, without amplification, was not how these song were meant to be heard — that would be over the radio, perhaps with someone cooler than you jostling to change the station. But they sounded quite good; Carlton, classically trained, is a natural in the recital format. Her cute parents were even there. (Beaming, of course.) And a recital was what it was — not a salon. The interview and Q&As were mere blips, and the VIPs weren’t exactly hauling out the wisdom afforded by their Very Important Pursuits. (Julia Stiles, the only celebrity we recognized, kept mum.) And you know what? Thank God for that. —Nick Catucci