By Patti liszkay
Buy it on Amazon http://amzn.to/2xvcgRa
So when my sister messaged me back telling me that she in fact had two tickets to Randy Rainbow Live and asking me if I'd like to come out to Portland to see his show, of course that was an offer I couldn't refuse.
And so on Friday evening Romaine and I set out for the Aladdin Theater,
That’s one hard-core Randy Rainbow fan.
I can’t say what I expected the Randy Rainbow Live show to be. I knew that his medium is first and foremost video and that he creates ― prolifically ― his razor-witted videos in his apartment in Queens, New York using a camera and a green screen; so I assumed the show would include video,
While on stage he mostly sang along to his videos, which played on the screen behind him.
His fine tenor voice sounded as clear, strong and wide-ranged on stage as it did on his videos; except that Randy Rainbow’s live singing so closely matched his singing on the videos playing behind him that one couldn’t tell whether he was singing or lip-syncing to the videos. Sometimes he turned and just watched a video along with us; other times he ducked off stage and let us watch one of his videos without him.
While the rest of the audience appeared to be loving every minute of the show, I found myself wondering what the point was of watching the same videos on stage that I’d already watched dozens of times on Youtube. But then mayhaps the rest of the audience wasn’t as steeped in the Randy Rainbow repertory as I was, as the audience was lively and reactive and laughed at the videos as if this were the first time they’d ever seen them.
Or maybe the adoring audience just didn’t care whether they’d already seen the videos and knew them all by heart. Maybe they were just so thrilled to see our idol in person that it didn’t matter what his show was.
On the other hand, Randy Rainbow did have wonderful stage presence, and when he did tell a few smart, witty jokes between the videos his comic timing was spot-on. He seemed comfortable with the crowd, he was friendly and had good audience rapport and good audience engagement. There just wasn’t enough of it, thought I.
At one point Randy Rainbow invited the audience to ask him questions. Most of the questions people asked were jokey or silly, such as “What does your mother think of your videos?” or “When are you gonna get that a***ole kicked out of the White House?” One woman asked if she could give him her son’s phone number. Randy Rainbow riposted with clever one-liners while the audience roared.
I asked him the only serious question: Would he tell us a little about his musical education and background?
A little is what he told us. He said that he went to college very briefly before dropping out, that he learned most of what he knew from his family, and that he’d been doing musical theater most of his life.
It was after his quick, abbreviated answer to my question that the thought popped into my head: Randy Rainbow doesn’t relish doing these live shows. He’d rather be back in his apartment making his videos. He did in fact mention later that making videos was what he did all day long. So making videos must be what Randy Rainbow really loves doing. And indeed, he does that well.
At the end of the show the audience gave him a rousing standing ovation, which I joined in, deciding that Randy Rainbow’s body of musical political satire as a whole deserved an ovation and that perhaps these live shows help finance his true art, his videos, which I've been watching for free for well over a year and which, I swear, are the only thing that have been getting me through the Trump Presidency.
And so after the show I bought a tee shirt.