Arts

Before Her Tour, a Pregnant Mandy Moore Predicted That COVID Was in Her Family’s Future

Just before heading on tour in support of In Real Life in June, Mandy Moore predicted that COVID-19 was "coming for us. It seems like it’s coming for everybody right now."
Just before heading on tour in support of In Real Life in June, Mandy Moore predicted that COVID-19 was "coming for us. It seems like it’s coming for everybody right now." Jenna Jones
Somebody up there really doesn’t like Mandy Moore fans in Dallas.

For the second time in two years, the singer-songwriter-actor (and potential Emmy Award winner) has had to cancel a tour that included a date here.

Yet unlike in 2020, when the global pandemic wiped out almost 30 of her U.S. gigs over two months from start to finish, this time Moore hit the road for 12 shows, beginning June 10 in Atlanta. The reason for these cancellations also is health-related, though on a more personal level for Moore. She announced June 3 on Instagram her latest pregnancy, a second baby boy due in the fall after she gave birth to her first son with husband-guitarist-Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith on Feb. 23, 2021.

“It is with a heavy heart and much consideration that I have to let you know that I am canceling my remaining show dates in 2022,” Moore said in part Tuesday, June 28, on Instagram. “When we booked these shows, I wasn’t pregnant and although I truly thought I could power through, the way we are traveling (long hours on the bus and not getting proper rest) has caught up, taken its toll and made it feel too challenging to proceed. I know that I have to put my family and my health (and the health of my baby) first and the best place for me to be right now is at home.”

All tickets will be refunded at place of purchase, she added, which includes the canceled July 6 show at Strauss Square in the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas.

Before Moore launched the In Real Life tour in support of her seventh studio album, which was released May 13, it had been 15 years since she had performed on concert stages, including one in DFW. The delay initially was brought on in her 20s by a focused return to acting, but it appeared to be nearing an end when Silver Landings, her first album since 2009’s Amanda Leigh, came out on March 6, 2020, just before all hell broke loose. Our first phone interview for the Dallas Observer took place five days later, a few hours before the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic.

Asked then if she was worried that the coronavirus would get in the way of her "comeback tour,” Moore, who had just wrapped up Season 4 of popular NBC family drama series This Is Us, said, “Obviously, I’m concerned that it could delay all our plans for going on the road, which would really be awful because this is kind of the only pocket of time I have. ... I go back to work [for This Is Us] in July, so this is kind of my only window to do this. … All I can do is project good thoughts into the universe and have my fingers crossed it all goes off without a hitch.”

Four days before that tour was to begin on March 20 in Pittsburgh, Moore, Goldsmith & Co. were stopped cold.

Fast forward two years later, and Moore is on another phone interview from her home in Pasadena, California, having wrapped up the sixth and final season of This Is Us and getting ready to hit the road again, sounding eager to play in 26 North American cities. In Real Life had been delivered, but there was no inkling of another possible delivery. The new mother disclosed nothing when asked if there might be a little brother or sister in the future for 16-month-old son August Harrison Goldsmith, nicknamed “Gus.” “We’ll see,” she volunteered demurely.

"It's Coming for Us"

Revisiting the horrors of 2020, she shared what was going through her mind, starting with a March 12 appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon — in a studio full of empty seats. She and Goldsmith eventually made it back home to perform shows together on Instagram.

“I think just a lot of fear of the unknown,” she said on the phone. “It just felt so unprecedented. Not performing to an empty theater. I mean, that was certainly strange but more of just the world at large. ... Would the world be shut down? Would cities be closed?”

Saying then that her entire family had escaped catching COVID-19, Moore at first sounded thrilled and astounded that even her cast avoided the coronavirus in 2020. Following a “knock on wood” statement, though, she delivered a scary — and prescient — warning.

“I’m sure it’s coming for us,” Moore stated matter-of-factly. “It seems like it’s coming for everybody right now. It’s everywhere, yeah. I’m not so much scared. I’m just like I don’t want to inconvenience anybody. I’m not worried about getting sick, but I don’t want to have to cancel anything or disappoint people."

Then following a sigh, she added, “I hope it happens before we hit the road so then I don’t have to fear … I’d rather not get it, but it just feels like an inevitability at this point now.”

It certainly was for Goldsmith, who was diagnosed with COVID before their bus rolled into Nashville with Moore, Gus and band members that included his brother, drummer Griffin Goldsmith, for a June 25 show at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. On what was supposed to be the last stop on the tour's first leg, Moore was making her debut performance at the historic venue.

That’s especially notable for the 38-year-old artist in a music career she officially began as a 15-year-old pop princess in 1999 with a debut single “Candy,” her first album So Real and a tour with other teen-oriented acts like the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC.

COVID didn’t stop Taylor Goldsmith from performing for the entire 90-minute concert, though. He played his guitars while isolated in a backstage dressing room. Adding to the intrigue, he shared on Instagram the next day, “I played the whole show from the ‘Hank’ dressing room. Show must go on all while keeping everyone safe. We were told this was the first time anyone’s done something like this. We made some @theryman history!”

He received over 4,000 “likes” and more than 100 comments, including ones from Moore and her This Is Us costar Chrissy Metz, who wrote, “Missed seeing you shred on stage but the show was perfection.”

Moore, whose character Rebecca Pearson is a devoted wife and loving mother to three children, including Metz’s Kate, added, “Best husband and band member in the game. Wish we could have shared the stage but can’t wait to tell our kids about this one day.”

In our 2020 interview just before the coronavirus invasion shut down the tour — including an April 23 stop at the Majestic Theatre in Dallas — Moore vaguely remembered her lone performance in DFW (on Aug. 30, 2007, at the Lakewood Theatre) on the "epic" Wild Hope tour.

“I always have a lot of fondness for Dallas," she said. "I have a couple of friends there.”

Don’t feel bad if that 2007 concert doesn’t rank among her career musical highlights. Before this June, it had been so long since Moore had toured, she admitted, “I don’t know if I have [a No. 1 moment]. I’m hoping to make it on this run. … I get to celebrate this music with my husband and we’re bringing our son with us. … And my brother-in-law is onstage. It’ll never be like this again. … Nothing will be able to top this.”

Especially after the historic "playing with COVID" night at the Ryman.
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Singer-songwriter-actor Mandy Moore's return to the road for the first time in 15 years was cut short for health considerations.
Jenna Jones

From One Mother to Another

Moore was supposed to get a touring break following that Nashville show, since the next scheduled concert was July 6 in Dallas. That brief pause turned into something far lengthier. Meanwhile, Goldsmith and Dawes are still scheduled to play on the Fourth of July (followed in August by their lengthy tour starting in Texas).

Though the threat of the Texas heat in July could have played a part in her decision, Moore had no concerns during our interview. Learning that Strauss Square is outdoors, she used one of her favorite expressions: “Oof!”

Asked about the hot, humid conditions (Austin singer-songwriter Carrie Rodriguez once told me she purposely leaves the state during summer tours), Moore, who grew up in Orlando, Florida, figured she could take the heat.

“Yes, I will be sort of reliving my childhood days in Florida during the heat of the summer,” the silky-smooth vocalist said. “I love the summer. I love being in the South. … There’s nothing better for your skin, quite frankly, than (laughs) a little bit of humidity.”

After finally getting an opportunity to sing on stage again, staying healthy and safe will remain Moore’s focus heading into the fall. Yet the real-life mom still has to reserve a place in her emotional scrapbook for This Is Us, which tearfully ended on May 24. Its six-year run showed her moving, Emmy Award-worthy portrayal of Pearson, who over the course of the series went from high school sweetie to 80-something grandmother, a victim of Alzheimer’s.

No acting projects compare to her This Is Us role, Moore believes, calling it “a once-in-a-lifetime gift.”

“I’m so grateful and I was present and appreciated it the whole time,” she said. “I feel like the rest of our cast did as well. So you move on to whatever’s next. It will be fantastic, too, in its own way. It just won’t be this, and that’s totally OK.”

In the Running

Though Moore was a Screen Actors Guild Award winner for best ensemble performance with the This Is Us cast in 2018 and 2019, individual Emmy and Golden Globe nominations haven’t yielded any hardware. That could change this year, though Emmy competition for her category (drama actress) is stiff, led by Euphoria’s Zendaya and Ozark’s Laura Linney, according to Gold Derby “experts.” Nominations will be announced on July 12.

Yet, Moore already is nominated for a Television Critics Association award (individual achievement in drama) among a stellar field of nine other actors, including Michael Keaton (Dopesick), Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) and Amanda Seyfried (The Dropout).

No matter how the votes are cast, Moore should feel like a winner. The series’ penultimate episode (No. 17 in Season 6) — titled “The Train” — shows Rebecca imagining her younger self wearing a fancy dress aboard a luxury train, seeing friends and family from a long, mostly satisfying life before taking one final breath.

“I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful sendoff for a character,” Moore said. “I truly hope that is what it is like for us when we are transitioning from one place to another.

"It blew my mind reading the script initially," she added. "I just couldn’t believe that I would have the good fortune of saying goodbye to this character in quite this way.”

As Rebecca pursued (unsuccessfully) her own music career, some of the songs Moore sang in past episodes include covers of “My Funny Valentine,” “Lean on Me” and “Our House.” But for anyone who saw Moore as a gray-haired Rebecca singing “The Forever Now” (written by Siddhartha Khosla and Taylor Goldsmith) at her daughter Kate’s second wedding (Season 6, Episode 13), imagine how people will react the next time she sings it for real. With the No. 1 tune in the country on iTunes in April, the anticipation for her return to the stage — hopefully in the near future — is likely to build for concertgoers in Dallas, other North American cities and beyond.

This Is Her, 15 years later. It just might be worth the wait in golden moments.
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