Events,  On The Road Series

On The Road: David Blaine Has The Crowd Holding Their Breath In Asheville, NC

Here at Capture Kentucky, we are presented with a lot of great opportunities. Sometimes though, the cool stuff just doesn’t make a stop in our great Commonwealth. That’s the purpose of series that we call, “On The Road”.

In this edition, we made our way to Asheville, NC. A beautiful mountain town with a thriving arts community and a terrific music scene that’s probably most famous for the stunning home of the railroad mogul George W. Vanderbilt.

The Biltmore is the largest privately owned estate in the United States. The main home is 178,926 square feet and the estate sits on roughly 8,000 acres, which covers roughly 11 square miles of land.

That’s not what beckoned us to North Carolina though. What caught our eye was the tour of one of the greatest illusionists the world has ever known. David Blaine brought his tour to the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville.

I have been a David Blaine fan for a very long time. I remember seeing him for the first time. He made an appearance on the Jon Stewart show on MTV. David’s odd demeanor and strange techniques created a very peculiar aura about them and from that moment on, I knew he would go on to be very famous.

Here, watch that performance yourself. Thanks to the wonderful Tube of You.

I did not expect just how bright Mr. Blaine’s star was actually going to shine through. Essentially, he invented his style that is more often about the reactions he elicits from his act than about the actual performance. He made a name for himself performing street magic and capturing how people act up close and personal.

Then Mr. Blaine changed the game once again by pushing his body to the extremes and performing several death-defying acts in televised specials. He also had a few failures along the way, which in my opinion elevated his act. Now you may be asking why would you think that? It’s simple, he proved he’s human and that elevated the stunts he was performing because suddenly, the viewer fully realized that you very well could see the man perish right in front of you.

Now as macabre and eerie as that may seem, that’s an element that is tried and true. No matter how you may think. Take NASCAR or Evil Knievel for example, the added aspect of a daredevil and their death draws peoples attention.

David was raised by his single mother in Brooklyn. His Father was half Puerto Rican and half Italian, while his Mother was of Russian Jewish descent. In an interview, David spoke about how magic allowed him to make his Mother smile and laugh. As an only child that prides himself on being selfless, I understand the joy and gratification David spoke of in that interview.

I also spoke of David’s ability to elicit and capture reactions, as a self-proclaimed professional people watcher, I have always felt a certain kinship with his style. So given the opportunity to take in a show, I felt that would make for a great article for our readers.

We had heard that David likes to pop out into the balcony or lobby and do street magic before the show, so we got there before the doors opened in hopes of catching an up close and personal show. We didn’t catch any magic, but we were lucky enough to jump into the selfie line with him. I have met many musicians and celebrities, so it’s a rarity for me to get nervous. Welp, this was David Blaine. So…I was nervous. Really nervous. Thankfully I didn’t do anything stupid or drop my phone, but I did get to shake his hand and say thank you. That likely meant nothing to him, but it sure meant a lot to me.

A children’s magician took the stage first. I do want to apologize, as the only part of his name that I caught was Mario. His act was all about interaction and making the kids the stars than it was about actual magic. Mario’s routine was quite funny and the children had the crowd in stitches. Especially the smallest and youngest little lady. She was much more excited about seeing herself on the large screen behind her than being a participant. Mario and the children set a light-hearted tone for the rest of the night.

Now that’s not to say that David Blaine didn’t try to shed a little darkness on that light-hearted mood throughout the show, because he certainly did. Overall though, humor was a pretty common thread throughout David’s performance, and one that I welcomed with open arms.

I don’t want to detail everything that happened, but I will say that the show featured several of the acts that David has performed in the past. That’s by design though. As someone who decided to take his show down the path of pushing the limits of the human body, this entire tour is built upon that premise.

You’ll see bits where David sews his mouth shut, he puts an ice pick through his arm, he becomes a firebreather and an extinguisher and even becomes a human aquarium. I’m not going into details on those, for one simple reason. You need to see the show.

See David perform for Jimmy Fallon:

I will touch upon the last act though. David has performed many feats and conquered unthinkable challenges in his career. One of those he actually failed in front of millions of viewers. That challenge was holding his breath and setting a world record. He had to be pulled from the water after 7:08, well short of the world record he would eventually set.

He said himself that failure was a very humbling, even embarrassing moment for him. It was also fuel for his fire. David Blaine incorporates that very trick into every show on this tour. He held is breath for over ten minutes. A challenge so dangerous that no insurance company would insure that aspect of the show.

Check out this really cool Ted talk with David Blaine:

The man truly is risking his life at each and every show on this tour. What adds to that danger, is when he performs the human aquarium, he can not eat. Lots of these shows are back-to-back dates, so he is also fasting for much of the tour. So this entire tour could essentially be a new special. He said himself that during this tour, he will have held his breath for over 6-1/2 hours. That’s just plain nuts, but totally in a good way.

Tricks and illusions are one thing, but when you witness such an incredible feat in person, knowing that what he is doing is real, it’s mesmerizing. This had to be what it felt like watching Houdini. I really can’t accurately put into words the tension and the electricity in the crowd. The last three minutes of the ten David spent underwater, the crowd were on their feet. Screaming, clapping, cheering and loving every second. It was incredible.

Now, having said all of that, let me tell you what was even more special. Most entertainers stick to the stage. They like to be behind the barricade and allow security to do their job. David Blaine was different. Not only did he take a boatload of selfies before the show, he came into the crowd multiple times to pick participants. Which is impressive enough, but there was one more element that made this show and tour worth your time and money.

After spending over ten minutes underwater, David didn’t leave the stage. He walked to the front of the stage and sat down.

He told us the reason that he now does this, is a family friend brought their teenage daughter to a show and she ran to him backstage, clinging to him, fearing he may die backstage. So now David recovers on the stage to put everyone at ease and that’s where you will be very glad you spent the money.

Sitting alone, covered in towels, shivering, David Blaine becomes human. He takes off the mask if you will. He opens himself up and asks who has questions and he answers them all. He does so in a truthful, purposeful way that allows you to feel like you hung out with him. Even if it wasn’t your question. That, in my humble opinion, was the greatest magic of the night.

The tour continues through July 14th. Ending with two shows in his hometown of Brooklyn. If he is near, go. You can thank us later.

‘David Blaine Live’ 2018 Tour Dates:
June 24 – Oxon Hill, MD – The Theater at MGM National Harbor
June 26 – Albany, NY – Palace Theatre
June 28 – Richmond, VA – Altria Theater
June 29 – Wallingford, CT – Toyota Presents Oakdale
July 01 – Boston, MA – Boch Center Wang Theatre
July 02 – Montreal, QC – L’Olympia
July 04 – Toronto, ON – Sony Centre For Performing Arts
July 05 – Toronto, ON – Sony Centre For Performing Arts
July 07 – Detroit, MI – The Fox Theatre
July 08 – Buffalo, NY – Shea’s Performing Arts Center
July 11 – Upper Darby, PA – Tower Theatre
July 12 – Brooklyn, NY – Kings Theatre
July 14 – Brooklyn, NY – Kings Theatre