I’ve had a great run of shows this spring and summer. (And spent a fortune on tickets.) Can you say “stuck in the ’80s” . . .?
Joe Jackson at Variety. With James Harvey. Probably the best show I’ve seen this spring/summer. Songs from his new album, Rain, plus plenty of oldies rearranged for piano instead of lead guitar. Original drummer and bass player (well preserved) from way back. Jackson sang and played his heart out. On the way home, I was elated to have been there and wished I could have shared the experience with more even people who would have enjoyed it.
Leon Russell. On my birthday with Elizabeth. The dude is an icon, really. He had this fun young guitar player with him, who had to hang back until the end, when Russell finally let him show off a little bit. At Smith’s. Ruined my ears — something was wrong with the sound and every time the bass drum thumped, it traveled directly to my eardrums. Here’s one of my two favorite LR songs, from somebody who must’ve been standing not far behind me and E (being with E, we were of course front and center).
X. At Variety with Warren and Scott. And Butler. And Alexander and Wynn were there. Better than expected, and so nice to show the 13 year olds hardcore with lyrics. Hey Mikey, they liked it!
REM. With Ev, Warren and Vlad at Lakewood. Not awful seats, and a really good show. Mike Mills is still just . . . Mike Mills. Modest Mouse opened, and I think that’s a band I need to listen to. They were really intense live and I liked what I heard.
Tom Waits. At the Fox with E for her birthday. Sarah has always raved about what an amazing show he puts on, so I decided we had to go. The guy is like a tightly wound spring. The audience worshiped him.
Lyle Lovett. At Chastain with Jaffner for her birthday. Talk about exceeding expectations. First of all, there was no one at Chastain, so once it got dark and I didn’t have to watch the beautiful people, it was great. And it wasn’t hot at all. He had this chorus of about 20 young African American gospel singers, mostly women, who put out a sound like you wouldn’t believe. Then three black dudes backing him up and dancing like doo-wop chicks, but each with his own amazing voice. Plus his large band. It was like a wall of soul.
Freakwater at Variety, opening for some act I’d never heard of that sold out on a Tuesday night. As much as I love Freakwater, I had never seen them live, so I was ready to go by myself if I had to. Anna decides to meet me, we decide to get tix at the door, and when I get to the window they hand me the last one! Anna had to hang around until someone whose date didn’t show gave her one.
(All these incredibly wholesome-looking 20-somethings were there to see a newish band called She and Him. “She” is an actress, the one who played Trillian in the Hitchhiker’s Guide movie. “He” came out to play with Freakwater and sucked. And I mean really sucked. It was an incredible mismatch of opening bands to headliner. The crowd had never heard of Janet and Catherine and talked through the show, thoroughly irritating me.
Of course, being culturally in-the-know as I am and up-to-date on the latest poptrends, when the show was announced, I picked up the phone and called Variety to be sure it was really truly Freakwater — and that they were *opening* for these unknowns, rather than the other way around. Anyway, I could tell from the 20-somethings’ reception of my band that I wasn’t going to like their band, so we didn’t stay. I didn’t want to spoil the transcendence of Freakwater with something ordinary.)
The sound these two women make is like nothing else. It may be the most mournful sound on the planet since the Stanleys, but it somehow makes me incredibly happy. I want to be that bassist, David Gay, like I haven’t wanted to be anyone since Michael Lachowski. And after the show he came out to sell CDs and I pulled an Elizabeth and told him he was my hero.
Kingsized and Dames Aflame. With Dan and James Harvey. I always think I’ve seen this show and don’t need to go, but it really just keeps getting better. Not only did mi amigo El Vez join for a few songs, but they finished with an amazing spectacle of . . . wait for it . . . “Come Sail Away.” Groans turned to cheers as Big Mike and his very big retinue turned Styx’s most fearful piece o shit into an extravaganza complete with silver wings, drag queen and a remote-mic stroll down the aisle. While he’ll never reach the bizarre heights of his opener for El Vez Christmas 2006, the guy does have a sense of the absurd that is not to be trifled with.
El Vez. With Eliz, Allison and her sister. I was worried no one would show up for my big crush’s Sunday-night show. Was Geier’s act Tongo Hiti or the Useless Playboys? Then came Lysa Flores (I bought the CD), and it’s getting late on a Sunday night . . . finally, the place got a decent crowd, and Mr. Lopez did not disappoint.
Someone’s been sewing for El Rey. He had more than one new second skin to emphasize his political commentary. Excellent band, and two Elvettes. So sad Jimbo and Judy and Connie couldn’t make it. Like leaving Hunting Island every year, I always hope there will be a next time, but I always say goodbye like it’s the last. Bought a new poster for my closet shrine, and got two big hugs. I adore El Vez. Nothing makes me happier.
Still to come, David Byrne and the Allman Bros at Chastain . . . and should I take Warren and friends to see Buckethead at Masquerade? Why stop now, with the Squirrel Nut Zippers and Del McCoury on the way?