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Sunday, April 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 55.0° F  Partly Cloudy
The Daily

SPOKEN WORD

Andrea Gibson electrifies the Majestic with an impassioned performance of spoken-word poetry

The energy Gibson gives off with mere words and no live backup is astounding.
Credit:Lanni Solochek
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It's a rare occasion that a poet's name appears on the marquee at the Majestic Theatre, but longtime activist and spoken-word artist Andrea Gibson likes to defy convention. She performed to a nearly full house on Wednesday, the day she released her latest album, Truce.

The album features a mix of older, revamped pieces and brand new works touching on topics such as self-love, privilege and relationships. It includes fellow artists like Sonya Renee and Chris Pureka, but Gibson is known for performing solo at live shows. She stomped lightly on the Majestic's stage, sending out waves of emotion while slashing the air with her hands during poignant phrases. Her melodic, melancholic words rang through the theater to snaps and whoops of agreement from the audience.

The energy Gibson gives off with mere words and no live backup is astounding, but she seems slightly shy as well. This element of her personality peeks out between numbers while she tells the stories behind her poems. At this performance, she often smiled softly and mentioned her dog sitting backstage.

Though she is not new to Madison, Gibson's performance at Majestic took her out of the coffeehouse realm she often visits. Though less physically intimate than a café, the theater served a larger audience and didn't seem to affect Gibson's attachment to the crowd. She was joined by local indie folk singer Anna Vogelzang, who opened with a set featuring a guitar, ukulele, banjo and kalimba. Vogelzang also joined Gibson for a duet later in the show.

Gibson expertly recited poems for nearly an hour straight. Interestingly, she believes in only performing poems she is "feeling" during the show. She seemed to abide by this rule on Wednesday night. Classic pieces like "I Sing The Body Electric, Especially When My Power's Out," "Letter to the Playground Bully" "Sleeping," and "Maybe I Need You" accompanied a slew of brand-new pieces like "Honey," "July 13, 2013” and "A Letter to My Dog." She preached on topics ranging from war and politics to mental health and the joys and perils of being human.

I left the show feeling genuinely empowered. As an added bonus, Gibson followed the performance with a meet and greet, even bringing out Squash, her beloved dog, for photos with fans. While spoken word isn't something that comes to Madison stages every day, Gibson's performances are impossible to resist since her fervor for her art is contagious.

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