Gifts & Sacrifice: A Review of David Blaine Live
This is about my first time seeing David Blaine live.
I saw Blaine’s first live show in Arizona with J.R. We drove overnight and endured blistering heat and monsoon downpours to get to Fox Theatre in Tucson. And I have to say, it was definitely worth it.
To my bewilderment, that event was was the most emotional I’ve ever been in a magic show – ever. Not like that’s hard for me, I can get emotional about toast but still, this was different.
If he didn’t already make sense to me on T.V. – he finally made so much more sense in person. Since that show, I haven’t seen him or magic the same way since. Here’s what prompted the thought.
I remember a friend of mine talking about being offended by the physical stunts he was pulling off in Real or Magic and his new special Beyond Magic.
From our conversation, what I gathered was: it seems selfish, to some people, to have the world watch a man put himself in impossible situations where he should’ve surely died or gotten hurt very badly. “How could he put people through that and call it magic?”, she asked in palpable distress waving here wine glass at the screen. “How could he put people, and himself, through so much pain. What is he trying to prove?”
I didn’t really know what to say to her, or how I could explain it in a way that doesn't sound nuts and so clearly biased. I new I got what he was doing in a deep unspoken sense, but I didn’t understand it well enough to explain it back to her. The only thing I could get out of me was that, “I don’t think it’s that simple”.
Fundamentally, I couldn’t deny that this is a common reaction to Blaine’s magic that can’t be ignored. People are captivated, yet also very polarized by his performances and I think his best answer to them was in his first tour.
It's clear when you first see his show that he, indeed, is inexplicably doing everything he is claiming to do. Which is the best and worst part for some people looking to debunk what his magic is about.
Is that magic though?
I don’t know that answer for everyone, but from what I did experience live: yes, wholeheartedly to me, it was.
“This is not a ‘Trick’”
What do you have to hold on to if you know it’s not a trick?
He demonstrated that magic doesn’t exist just in clever sleights but believing for a moment that something impossible – that everything in life has proven to you should not happen without severe consequence – is happening right in front of you. He shows you exactly how he’s doing it but not in a magician-y way, he’s showing the actual way he did it.
And it doesn’t always go right, some of it is very unscripted. People can tell the difference between things going as planned and improv and that’s the thing that makes it real. He shows it go wrong too, even slightly, even if it is embarrassing, to show you that it’s happening and he commits to it.
Being physically present to see this show without editing, you feel what he goes through, you see him adapt and improvise to make it work. You empathize.
It forces you to ask the question what does it mean to me if it is real?
In his own way, his sacrifice and commitment is his gift to show children, adults and any human that he will put himself through these tests of the human condition so his audience can experience something impossible and show you that magic can be in the reality that you embody.
He shows that the distinction between magic and reality doesn’t even matter in the first place.
It’s our choice to deny reality or magic that comes into our life, but when that needle is definitely coming through his arm and when you see him definitely put his plain self into a water tank and you try to hold your breath with him as long as you can... you feel the commitment, the work, the sacrifice all for this rare and beautiful moment you’re never going to see again – not quite like this.
It all hits you as you sit at the edge of your velvet seat, you want to scream,
“I believe in your sacrifice, I believe your art. The will of people is magic in itself. Please come out. Please.
I believe you.”