• Nicholas Nelson

Ben Platt Live from Radio City Music Hall is a Must See

Between dance breaks and jokes, Ben Platt comes out strong in this live recording at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Recorded on September 29th, 2019 and released as a Netflix Special on May 20th, 2020, this work comes at a time when it’s needed most. With somber triumphs and explosive bouts of joy, Platt comes out with his heart on his sleeve and ready to party and cry. He performs his 2019 album, “Sing to Me Instead,” with emotion first and performance second. This felt like his chance to give us the story of his life with music.

Whether acquainted with his music or not, he guides the audience through backstories of each song, grounding each performance in the reality of his lyrics. Beautiful images of heartbreak, impassioned love, drifting apart, and first love populate this album and performance with such clarity. This hour and a half special is the best approach to this record with his illustrations and connections to each song, making the messages stronger. 

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Ben Platt Live From Radio City Music Hall


Also. His outfit screams icon. His floral print blouse is iconic. His high-waisted light blue trousers are iconic. White sneakers for dancing, iconic. As a queer icon himself, he sings two songs by other queer icons, Brandi Carlile and Elton John, with maturity and gravitas. I could go into his entire gay history, but to remain in the spirit of his early address on this concert, I’ll make it brief. He was gay. He had to come out. He came out. He did a lot of things. And now he’s an icon. Simple. No?

The only misgivings from this performance are those four pesky lightbulbs that didn’t light when they descended onto the stage. That one wasn’t even Platt’s fault so we’ll let it slide. It’s also easy to forgive him, too, that he doesn’t shy away from sharing his experience with the audience, from water burps to pee breaks. It was the only time it didn’t feel as planned or intentional as I had hoped, but it does hearken back to his lyrics, “I am an honest man.” But not every honest quip is necessarily one that bears forgiving. At one point he said, “I wrote this song and I feel a lot better now.” With anyone who has tried to write music before, there has never been a truer statement.

 
“I wrote this song and I feel a lot better now.” 
 

During his “pee break,” the backup singers get a chance to riff and sing their hearts out in a magnificent display of talent and passion. Crystal Monee Hall, Kojo Littles, and Allen Rene Louis come in strong with a powerful showcase the entire show, but especially during this interlude. They each get a chance to take a line and make it their own. It’s their performance too and they nailed it. Falsetto reaches, scaling their ranges with such control, and soul with no match, these three came out strong and ready to have some fun. Just jamming on stage is so easy to connect with and entertaining to watch. Although Platt wasn’t present during this riff, it illustrates his generosity to give these singers the time of day they all deserve. (I do feel more and more singers are doing this, like Maggie Rogers’ extreme appreciation for her band at her concert in Minneapolis in 2019.) As someone who massively appreciates these kinds of gestures, I cannot explain how explosive this interlude was.

Music is healing and that’s exactly what this performance was. For anyone partly interested in seeing this performance, I cannot urge you to see this more. From a solid outfit to beautiful songs, honest quips to fast humor, Ben Platt Live from Radio City Music Hall is a concert every person trying to survive quarantine needs to see. 

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