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Rockefeller Center’s iconic Rainbow Room has a new, sky-high concert series

Rockefeller Center’s iconic Rainbow Room has a new, sky-high concert series
Photograph: Courtesy Michael Simon
Leslie Odom Jr. performs at LIVE! from the Rainbow Room

The Rainbow Room is one of my favorite places to go in New York. It also, sadly, one of my most cursed. Every night I take that elevator up to the 65th floor of Rockefeller Center, the city is blanketed in a thick fog that completely obscures the legendary view. For some reason or another, I never quite make it to the rainbow. I always get stuck in the clouds. (This has happened three times now, so I’m allowed to call it a trend.)

When I attended the premiere show of LIVE! From The Rainbow Room last week, a brand-new concert series that the restaurant has just launched, my curse struck again. I entered the sparkling dining room, and was greeted with a room full of people surrounded by foggy windows, like a well-dressed version of Stephen King’s The Mist. I was not surprised. 

Before the concert begins at a LIVE! event, the audience is able to order from an “elegant grazing” menu featuring items like a three-story seafood tower with lobster, oysters, crab claws and salmon tartare, caviar, charcuterie and lobster bisque. The selection could best be described as “exactly the type of fancy food you want to be eating before an intimate musical performance at the Rainbow Room.” It was all excellent, but the tartare was a real standout.

There’s also a list of curated wine and specialty cocktails, but from my vantage point it looked like they could have just printed “Martini” on a single page and left it at that.

The performer for the premiere event was Leslie Odom, Jr. and once he and his band took the stage, a tranquil calm took over the room as the elegant grazing subsided. (Food is not served during the performances, but light beverage service is still available.) His smooth voice soared to sonic heights that seemed appropriate for the setting, as he performed a mixture of jazz and classic standards. He also soared to literal heights, taking full advantage of the stairs and balcony on the west side of the restaurant.

I found myself focusing on the music and lyrics more than I usually do at concerts, hanging on every drawn-out note that Odom held or extended orchestral riff from his band. It struck me that part of this most likely had to do with the setting. It’s clear why the Rainbow Room has been hosting musicians and bands since the 1930s, the dream-like surroundings are perfect for being transported by a live performance. Losing yourself to music is even easier when you’re already lost in the clouds.

The next Live! From The Rainbow Room concert is Matthew Morrison on Oct 24.

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