“Are you ready to live in a snow globe with us for a few hours?”
That’s how Marie Miller, the opening act for Kris Allen on the Somethin’ About Christmas tour, greeted the crowd as she started off her set. And for about two and a half hours, fans at The Miracle Theatre in Washington, D.C. felt like they were doing just that as they were treated to a fun night filled with holiday tunes and lots of joy.
Just shortly after the scheduled start time of 7:30 P.M., Miller took the stage. Miller, who grew up about an hour outside of DC in northern Virginia, performed an eight-song set that included a mix of Christmas songs as well as originals from her EP and debut album. While I was not familiar with her before the show, I was very impressed by her talent and thoroughly entertained. Her voice reminded me of a wide variety of different artists at various points throughout her set. At some points she reminded me of Hillary Scott from Lady Antebellum, while during others she reminded me of Sara Bareilles.
Hands down, my favorite moment of Miller’s set was the original Christmas song she wrote specifically for this tour, “More than Christmas Snow.” It honestly felt like a Lifetime movie came to life in the best way possible. I really hope she releases this song soon, because I want to play it on repeat forever.
Following a brief intermission, Allen, who was joined on stage by his bandmates Cale Mills (Guitar), Andrew St. Marie (Keys), Devon Curry (Drums), Kevin Gift Jr. (Upright Bass) and Kirsten Arian (Backup Vocals), started his set by asking the audience whether they were ready for Christmas. After most of them said “yes,” he joked that they were supposed to reply “no,” but that by the end of the night everyone would be.
Throughout the night, the season 8 winner of American Idol played traditional Christmas tunes such as “Jingle Bells” and “Winter Wonderland” as well as some originals he wrote for his album Somethin’ About Christmas, which came out last year. He talked to the audience about his love for Christmas music and how it almost stopped him from writing some himself, as he didn’t want to mess it up. My personal favorite of the night was his rendition of “O Holy Night.” My notes for this song contained three simple words: so. expletive. good. While his original Christmas songs are good, his covers are stunning and, honestly, unlike any other versions I’ve heard before.
While the show mostly featured Christmas songs, Allen did play a few tunes from his other albums, including “Live Like You Were Dying,” which was his first single off his debut album after Idol. He even mashed-up one of his songs, “Monster,” with “You’re a Mean One, Mr.Grinch” so the audience never went too long without some holiday music.
About halfway through the set, the band exited and Allen moved over to the piano. He explained that as he was making the Christmas record last year, and even putting together the show for this tour, he was inspired by Christmas radio shows from the 1940s and 1950s. He downloaded 7 or 8 of them off the Internet and listened to them all the way through. While listening to them he fell in love with the joyous idea of family and friends gathering around the radio to listen and hang out together. “I feel like that’s what this time of year is about,” he said just before he moved on to play “The Christmas Song.”
The stage design even fit in with the ideas of “home” and “family.” The stage itself was wrapped in Christmas lights, both multi-colored and white. There were vintage televisions and radios placed at different points, as well as retro Christmas decor, such as old Santa posters and holiday popcorn tins. If that wasn’t enough, there was even a small Christmas tree towards the back of the stage. It definitely made you feel like you were looking into someone’s living room during the holidays and listening to that talented family member play all of the holiday classics.
At the end of the night, as Allen got ready to perform the last song before the encore, he reflected on his favorite Christmas memory. He told a story about his family going to a cabin in Arkansas together to spend the holiday when he was young and how they miraculously woke up to snow.
“I hope you guys have something like that, I really do,” he said to the audience as he was wrapped up his story before starting ‘Just Like Snow.’ “Because being able to go back to that Christmas, and being able to have something like that to grab onto…it’s special.”
This show will mark a treasured memory for me, as I’ll remember it being a great part of my first holiday season as an adult living on my own. So thank you Kris, for giving me a night I’ll be able to go back and hold onto. My only wish is that you would do this tour every year so that I could make going to this show a holiday tradition.
Photo Credit: Elvan McMillen