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Don Ignacio Visits the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame
Cleveland, Ohio June 28, 2013
Cleveland, Ohio June 28, 2013
I went on vacation in Michigan late June 2013 on account of my cousin getting married. I was there for a full week and two days. This was quite momentous, not only because my cousin was getting married, but because I only get two weeks of vacation a year. You can't have everything.
So, why not visit The Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame, which is located in Cleveland, a town only a few hundred or so miles away? Though, to be honest, I was looking forward to visiting Cleveland mostly because of this YouTube video.
Also, I liked Cleveland! Even though I've been a Seattle-dweller for quite awhile now, I am--at heart--a Midwest guy. I would probably even want to live in Cleveland, if I could. But I probably won't.
There were a lot of things at this museum, which is something most museums have in common. A drum-head from Herman's Hermits, a Sgt. Pepper outfit, lots of concert promotion art from the '60s, quite a few classic Stevie Nicks outfits (actually I liked that bit way more than I should have). I saw handwritten lyrics to Neil Young's "Heart of Gold," Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer," Bee Gees' "How to Mend a Broken Heart," and (sort of a peculiar highlight for me) Erasure's "A Little Respect." They had an elaborately painted Porsche owned by Janis Joplin, which featured a display with a placard that stated her fans would immediately identify the vehicle and place letters underneath the windshield wipers.
I really enjoyed seeing all the Elvis stuff they had (at long last, after a decade of snubbing Elvis music, I'd finally turned into a major fan). They had a few of his movie costumes there and a gaudy jumpsuit from his '70s phase. The big item on display was a Cadillac. The Jimi Hendrix display was also rather large, showing a bunch of his costumes, handwritten lyrics, and a whole lot of drawings he did when he was a child. (Funny, is it, that rock legends tend to be generally talented at everything they do?)
The Michael Jackson costumes were a bit of an attraction, as I saw a number of people lining up to take photographs of them, as though they were the Mona Lisa. But next display over were David Bowie costumes with a Ziggy Stardust era suit, a Serious Moonlight suit, and a gaudy, golden costume from the Glass Spider tour. There was also a Reality Tour costume. Do you think he might have been wearing that exact suit either times I saw him 10 years ago in Chicago and Kansas City?...I'd imagine he had more than one costume made during that tour, but you never know.
At one point, in the distance, I caught a glimpse of the Genesis display and made a bee-line for it. (If I ever come back there I'm assuming the Genesis display would be gone!) They had Steve Hackett's guitar, a double-headed guitar owned my Mike Rutherford, a vinyl copy of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, a leather jacket (I forgot what that was for), and some photos. ...There was a lot of neat stuff there.
I also seemed to spend a lot of time watching video presentations at the museum. One in particular, my goodness, was hypnotizing. A video with absolutely no narration or anything--just a half-hour's worth of 20- or 30-second clips of American Bandstand music and interviews from Dick Clark. They featured just about everything from The Beach Boys to Sheena Easton. (I guess the show didn't last past the '90s.) Later on--about 45 minutes or so before the museum closed--we caught part of the 90-minute-long video showcasing brief clips of songs (and overdubbed interviews) of all the people who were inducted into the hall. We only caught roughly 1997-present. Which was probably OK, because I started paying attention to The Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame (and making snarky comments about it) in 2001. ...I remember Queen being inducted that year, right when I was becoming a Queen fan!
Well, the museum closed, and it was time for a meal. This would be the meal I would like to call lunch/dinner/the-next-day's-breakfast. And for the first time ever, it would be (to keep with the theme) at The Hard Rock Cafe.
There wasn't a whole lot of hard rock at the Hard Rock Cafe. The music they played was a load of dull adult-contemporary stuff like LIT and Our Lady Peace. Does actual hard rock interfere too much with digestion? It started to redeem itself later on in our stay with some Pretenders, Styx, and '90s Bruce Springsteen. But still, that was too late and way too little! Hard Rock Cafe: You are on notice. I had a hamburger there that was OK but not really worth clamoring over, especially if they are going to subject you to Our Lady Peace. (I'm not really a "foodie," as such, but that burger had some crunchy, burnt stuff on the edges, which wasn't good. I make better burgers at home.)
Cleveland was a nice town. They're kind of reputed to have a bit of an inferiority complex. But seriously, buck up, Cleveland. I thought it was perfectly nice there. There was almost no garbage on the streets or sidewalks (actually, almost eerily so). There were lots of fancy looking statues all over the place with almost no bird poop on them. There was a number of sizable grassy parts that were well landscaped. ...One rare bit of trash I did see I thought briefly was an ammo shell (or something)! But I looked more closely at it and discovered that it wasn't. I don't know what it was. Some kind of metal that wasn't an ammo shell.
As I was riding along, I did see a woman digging through a dumpster. But she looked so well dressed that I'm left to assume that her intentions were nothing but pure. The worst dressed guy I saw who interacted with me was even rather nice, seeing us get off the hotel shuttle and exclaiming "Welcome to Cleveland!"
This is sort of a change of pace from the Seattle culture where mere eye contact, sometimes, is interpreted as an act of aggression. So I don't know. Seems to me like Cleveland is a model American city! Though you might not want to take my word for this, because I grew up in Wichita. People from Wichita have built-in inferiority complexes. (But buck up, Wichita. At least you've never set one of your rivers on fire.)
Live in Snoqualmie, Wa June 9, 2013
Live in Snoqualmie, Wa June 9, 2013
Concertgoers Anonymous. Session one: I go to too many concerts. I am an addict. Concerts used to be such brilliantly thrilling things for me that, after the shows were over, I'd scramble in front of my computer and record every single, mundane detail that I possibly could about those things. Yes. You probably even know this. For, if you've been following this website for any period of time, that was one of the many things that likely annoyed you.
Well, my friends, those days are over, or at least temporarily suspended. This concert took place on June 9. The day I am writing this is... way later than that. And holy cow: I almost don't even care to keep these memories preserved. But here I am nonetheless attempting to preserve them. Well, this must be part of the addiction! Part of the struggle! It is myself vs. my lackadaisical nature. Or, perhaps, my perceived lackadaisical nature vs. whatever else the hell out there is distracting me. For instance, did I really need to watch a handful of episodes of Beverly Hills 90210 last January? I could have been writing this review instead. (...Oh, those kids! They used to look so old to me! When did they start looking so much like kids?) So I'll be truthful about this: There really aren't a whole lot of mundane details about this Boz Scaggs concert that are coming back to me. All I remember is that I went. It was in that same casino with the video game slot machines. I sat maybe 20 or so rows from the stage. The band was quite full--a black female singer with a thrusty voice, a horn section, and guiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitars.
Now is also the time to mention that I wouldn't really have considered going to this performance if it weren't for my dad, who is a big fan of this stuff. You know, blues. Here is how I would define the blues: Brass, sunglasses, and bellyachin'. Now I'll grant you, I've turned into at least a casually formidable aficionado of the blues as of late. Or, as people--like me--who are truly in-the-know, call the art the blooze. I guess because it makes it look like “booze.” And, you know, blues and booze go together like a wink and a smile.
And yet, Boz Scaggs is most known for an album which wasn't blues at all, but rather... Well my dad calls it “disco,” which doesn't seem accurate, but it's certainly poppy, and there is a certain '70s datedness to it. This album is, of course, Silk Degrees. I bought it a month or so before going to the show, and ... I love it! Smooth, beautiful tunes, and ... wow! Did Boz Scaggs ever have a great voice. Something you just want to melt and die in.
Well, Scaggs' voice lost some of that magic with age, but that's usually what happens to beauty. And I still enjoyed listening to him sing.
“Georgia!” That might be a musty old state with peaches and people who talk like they have marbles in their mouth, but it also happens to be a great song by Boz Scaggs that you need to listen to RIGHT NOW if you haven't yet. ...Yeah, he sang that song at the show.
Also. He played another great tune. One called “Lowdown.”
I got the general sense that people were more excited about hearing things from Silk Degrees than they were about anything else. ...You know, the audience notably perked up and stuff. Some lone audience members in this otherwise entirely seated crowd were even seen sprouting up like weeds to dance during these moments.
Now, he performed other songs as well. I remember the encore being a song that went longer than 10 minutes, a song called “Loan Me a Dime.” You can tell that is bona fide blues because it was from his debut album, when all artists are at their purest. That was my dad's favorite song of the set-list, by the way. You might want to heed that opinion, if you are a person who doesn't quite like pop music as much as I do.
HEY! “LIDO SHUFFLE!” He played that song also, from Silk Degrees. How's that for pop magic?
...Now, one thing I seem to remember most from this show is the female singer, who went by the name “Ms. Monet.” She seemed to be a bit perturbed that everyone was sitting down.
Seriously, the concept of people sitting down at a rock concert was something completely foreign to me until moving to Seattle. The practice is polite such that it allows everyone to see--not just short people. However, I'd never experienced that before in any of the shows I went to in the Midwest. Ever.
Nonetheless Ms. Monet tried quite hard to get people to stand, only to find out that people there were old and lazy. Me, I was perfectly willing to stand to get into the spirit of things a little more thoroughly. However, I'm far too conscientious of the people sitting behind me who weren't standing (who were probably conscientious of the people sitting behind them who weren't standing).
So, I guess we were all just lazy as three-toed sloths, snacking on this pop concert like sloths snack on leaves and lizards. (...I looked up on Wikipedia that three-toed sloths eat lizards... But how do those lazy buggers catch those things? I mean, I don't want to seem like some kind of ignoramus, but what I remember most regarding my encounters with lizards in the wild is that those things are FAST. Three-toed-sloths, on the other hand, seem like they are consistently drunk, what with those dopey, irresistibly lovable smiles that are constantly painted on their doughy, furry faces.)
Alright. I lost track of this review.
I'll conclude this by saying that Boz Scaggs could make a great show! I will probably go again if I get the chance.
Robyn Hitchcock w/ The Venus 3
Live in Seattle June 4, 2013
Live in Seattle June 4, 2013
Robyn Hitchcock was a musician that I had been trying to get into for ages. Like maybe a decade. I listened to him once in 2003 upon a readers' recommendation--in the earliest days of my website--and I just couldn't take to it. Off and on in the ensuing years, I made a few passes at his stuff. I downloaded Goodbye, Oslo, listened to it a few times, liked it. Sort of didn't touch it again apart from adding "You Are What You Is" on a mega-mix playlist I created in 2009. Forgot about him mostly after that.
But then in February 2013 I was talking to an old friend on Facebook who had recently posted a few photos of a Zombies concert. She said they were playing at a music festival where she also mentioned seeing Robyn Hitchcock. I looked online to see if The Zombies were playing anywhere near me (because who wouldn't want to see The Zombies?). Found out to my dismay that they weren't. Then I checked out Robyn Hitchcock who--to my delight—was going to be playing at The Neptune, a venue I'd been visiting very frequently. The price for a ticket was incredible--$19 with $8 in fees. And four months later, the rest would be history!
So this turned out to be yet another concert I'd attended which I didn't know the material too well. But that wouldn't matter, because I enjoyed myself anyhow! I do however remember sitting up there in the balcony (first row balcony, this time) kind of hoping that there wouldn't be an opening act, and we could get out of there before 10 p.m. (Only because I was being a major dork and was thinking about having to get up for work in the morning.)
But it was a good thing the god of wishes didn't grant my wish. For the opening act was Peter Buck--or rather his band, The Venus 3--performing solo songs.
Now I will have to confess I didn't know what Peter Buck looked like. Or rather, most of the pictures I'd ever seen of him were from his younger days. I thought he bore a resemblance to Austin Pendleton. But anyway, the songs he played were good--tuneful and jangly, just the way they're supposed to be. I thought maybe I'd like them better if I were listening to a well mixed studio cut. When I got home I was intending on buying the album, but I found out (at least at that time, anyway) that you couldn't actually own these songs unless you bought it at the concert. (I think he even said that at the show, but I sort of figured he was talking about a rare live album or something.)
When REM broke up, my first thought was disappointment. Because they were on my bucket-list of bands I wanted to see live! But since I couldn't, it was nice to at least have seen one of them. I was surprised there weren't more people in that theater--while respectably attended, the show was far from being sold out. I thought the REM draw would have been stronger! He did come off like a bit of a grump, though--albeit a respectably passionate grump. He surely played everything he needed to when he was up on stage with Robyn Hitchcock.
Robyn Hitchcock, by the way, is a major wise-ass. I already knew that when I made those passes trying to get into his material. The concert started out with Hitchcock singing a few songs with his acoustic guitar. ("Alright, Yeah," "I Don't Remember Guildford") I enjoyed them! Though I did prefer watching him with Peter Buck and the rest of The Venus 3. The easiest way for me to describe this was jangly, neo-psychedelic music--and I really like that stuff! This was a party!
After finally buying a few of his classic '80s and '90s albums in the weeks following the show, I've come to recognize that many of his songs contain lyrics that are witty, sometimes silly, thought-provoking. I got a lot of that at the show, and he even said silly things in between songs. (Unfortunately due to a combination of me writing this review so long after-the-fact and also having a hard time hearing what he was saying through the sound system, I've lost most of his words. But I do remember laughing.)
I can't really tell you what my favorite song of the evening was--other than I evenly enjoyed everything he had to offer. However, for whatever reason, the song that is sticking out at me is "Madonna of the Wasps." Also, looking at the set-list of the event someone posted online I've noticed that he also performed some Soft Boys songs, which is the band he was in before striking it out on his own as a solo-act. I will have to get the Soft Boys collection one of these days.
When I said I didn't recognize any of the songs that wasn't completely true. First off, I sort of knew I was hearing a song from that lone Robyn Hitchcock album that I'd owned (because it seemed vaguely familiar and the title--I'd gathered from the lyrics--was called "Goodbye Oslo"). But he also came back for the encore and performed nothing but songs I'd recognized. Why did I recognize them? Because they weren't written by him!
Much like how the concert began, the first song of the encore was a quiet, acoustic one--a cover of Syd Barrett's "Long Gone." ...OK, that was sort of mystifying and depressing. But after that, the rest of the band came out and they sang something by... The Beatles!!! ("She Said She Said.") For my money, that was the highlight of the whole show! Great melody, of course, but great vocal performance, too, indicating that he was as much into performing that as much as we were into hearing it. The stage--which had a light show going on through much of it--I recall it was bright, colorful, and swirly.
The final two songs of the encore were both Velvet Underground. The thought had immediately popped into my mind this was my karma for having seen John Cale and not hearing him do any Velvet Underground songs! The first was a sort of shockingly energetic rendition of "Heroin." I really like the original, but I think I liked their version better. (Whether or not it actually was as such or that was just the effect of hearing it performed with a seasoned and passionate live band, I'll never know. ...I guess I would have to comment that Hitchcock's vocals could never trump Lou Reed's, but I still very much enjoyed it.) He then performed "I'm Waiting For the Man," seemingly on an unplanned basis, and it was a good song to go out with. It was something that I had reverberating through my mind on the walk out to the car.
Oh by the way I've been quite decent lately about not spending so much time in my reviews talking about members of the audience, but I have to mention something I saw. So, standing in the front row and to the side of the stage was a girl who was 12 years old (or thereabouts) who was accompanied by her father. It was a good place for a child to be, after all, because you don't have to worry about seeing over tall people. ...So, if you happen to remember in my Psychedelic Furs review I was talking about a very tall, beastly woman with gray mane of frizzy gray hair. Here she resurfaced, and this is what she did: She wedged herself right next to that little girl, blocking her view of the center stage! (Yes! I really concern myself over such matters.) When Peter Buck started playing his set, the poor girl had to vacate that spot and stand back a ways. This gave room for her husband/boyfriend/whatever, who seemed quite athletic but about eight inches shorter than her to also get to the front of the stage. And then they started dancing--bumping into people around them--just being all-in-all obnoxious. They weren't horrible dancers, at least, and I would have to comment that the sight of Mickey Rooney dancing with Beastly Woman was comical.
Hmm... I guess regarding the people nearby me in the balcony, there was a 40-something-year woman who sat next to me and smelled like a strange concoction of various things, most of which I've gathered were perfume and something alcoholic. She asked me to save her seat, but she never came back.
Joan Jett and The Blackhearts
Live in Snoqualmie, Wa May 27, 2013
Live in Snoqualmie, Wa May 27, 2013
I can't say I particularly had Joan Jett on my bucket-list when I bought tickets to go see her, which was sometime around April 2013. At a hamburger restaurant. And, to be honest, I bought these tickets a little bit reluctantly. Because at the time, I'd already owned a whole stack of concert tickets, and I was just a little bit concerned that I was going to wear myself out if I tried to squeeze in yet another one. However, as the saying goes, you only live once. And by God, if I was only going to live once, my life was going to be dedicated to the loving spirit of rock 'n' roll. So, I went ahead and bought the tickets.
And then it was six weeks later, sufficiently worn out by a recent Fleetwood Mac concert at the Tacoma Dome, when I found myself back in my favorite place in the world: The Snoqualmie Casino. That was the place where I'd previously seen Yes, Procol Harum, Roger Hodgson, and Bob Newhart. That was also the place whose insides reeked of stale cigarette smoke... which is a disgusting sensation that I'm finding myself to be achingly addicted to, because I've come to associate the sense with terrific and exciting entertainment!
I found myself in the casino's big room, which as always is situated with rows of shiny, kitschy video game slot machines, where hundreds of mildly agitated people sit on chairs and mash buttons. I still haven't yet wrapped my mind around why anyone would get their kicks out of doing that, since it's certainly cheaper and more intellectually engaging to buy a Wii and play Mario all day (like I do). However, I won't judge. (Except I do judge! All the time! ...I loooove to judge.)
And then I found myself in the midst of the concert crowd. There were chairs, but they weren't useful for anything during the show apart from marking your territory. Everyone was standing up for the entire show. No laziness was allowed. My seat was on the third or fourth row; however, it very far off to the side. Seriously, I was seated in the last two seats of that row. ...That's what I get for purchasing the most expensive tickets I can for a show that's been on sale for a few weeks.
As I was watching the show, I'd come to realize how dumb I was for not having Joan Jett on my bucket-list! For, you see, Joan Jett is awesome. She manages an on-stage persona that is both tough and gritty, and yet, she comes off personable enough to invite to a family barbeque. In addition, she writes and performs songs that are catchy as hell. But the most important thing: she embodies rock 'n' roll. Previous to this concert, I'd only known by heart a few of her songs: “Bad Reputation,” “I Love Rock 'N' Roll,” “Cherry Bomb” (with The Runaways). Naturally, she performed all of those. After the concert, I've come to know many others!
I did take a few pokes at her discography before going to the show, however, and I noticed that she had a cover of The Modern Lovers' “Roadrunner.” I was kind of keeping my fingers crossed that she would play that one, but ... nah. What I got instead was an incredibly fun cover of Gary Glitter's “Do You Wanna Touch Me.” She also performed another excellent Runaways song, “I Love Playin' With Fire,” which I recognized thanks to me having watched that Runaways biopic which starred Kristin Stewart as Joan Jett a few weeks before attending the show. Decent movie, if you like rock 'n' roll biopics.
Most of the other songs I wasn't previously familiar with, but that didn't matter; these guys rocked them consistently. My only complaint is something that was my fault: I was so far off to the side that it didn't seem like I was able to get myself completely entranced within the experience. I was entertained, but I didn't lose myself. It seemed too much like I was peaking in on it from the sidelines. ...But do I regret the experience? Of course not!
I have one comment about a particular audience member: I'm almost pretty sure I was hearing that same guy from The Residents concert last February who kept on yelling out stuff. Because he had the exact voice and was incessantly yelling out requests throughout the show. Except he was pretty far off to the side, too, and due to the size and the loudness of the venue, there was no chance the performers would have heard him! And it wasn't like she was about to take song requests, anyway. (Why do people scream out song requests all the time?)
Live in Tacoma, Wa May 20, 2013
Live in Tacoma, Wa May 20, 2013
This was the first concert of the Summer of 2013 (with summer being loosely defined as mid-May to mid-September). That might not be necessarily worth noting, except I would end up attending 15 concerts this summer. Some might say that's a bit crazy, particularly for me, as an incurable invert. Others might say... I'm just trying to live life the best way I can. As for this particular portion of summer, I would be attending one concert per week for the next four weeks. They would be, in the following order, Fleetwood Mac, Joan Jett, Robyn Hitchcock, and Boz Scaggs. Not all of these shows took place conveniently on weekends, and I have this nasty habit of waking up the same time every morning no matter how later I go to sleep. So, yeah, I don't care if I sleep.
I bought these tickets back in December when I received an extra special e-mail stating that FLEETWOOD MAC would be doing a show at the Tacoma Dome, one of the largest facilities in the area. I usually tend to not want to go to huge arena events; however, it only took me about two milliseconds to realize that Fleetwood Mac is one of those bands that it felt like I sort of had to see. The only problem was that I bought the ticket in December, and I would have to wait almost half a year for it to start.
Well, I chopped through those days between then and this concert like a machete. There I was, I found myself sitting inside the Tacoma Dome! There were lots of people there. The venue wasn't quite sold out, as there were still nosebleed seats available. Or, you might have scored better last-minute seats if you felt like feeding the scalpers that were infesting the outskirts of the venue. We had to park in a private lot a mile or so away from the venue, which cost $20. I guess whoever designed the Tacoma Dome forgot that people might want to actually park somewhere nearby! But, you know, this is the Seattle metro area.
My Fleetwood Mac trivia must not have been terribly sharp, because I wasn't aware until that evening--watching that big ol' movie screen--that Lindsey Buckingham strums his guitar like he's flicking boogars off the strings. Oh, and Buckingham was definitely the rock star of the show; he more or less carried the thing. (That is, unless you want to give that credit to the rhythm section, even as they were behind the scenes.) Stevie Nicks was there, looking about as comfortable walking around on her platform shoes as a barefoot person would walking on broken glass. I was a little bit disappointed, at first, as I'd noticed that Nicks' voice had deteriorated to the point that it almost seemed like she was squawking some of the songs. At times it seemed even a little rough on the ears. And of course, the prospect of her being able to hit that beautiful high-note in the verses of “Dreams” that she always seems to hit so predictably whenever I listen to Rumours would have been all lost!
...Oh, what the hell am I doing? I got to hear Stevie Nicks sing “Dreams!” Do you want to know how many times I've listened to Rumours? High-note be damned.
Of course, everybody in that stadium (and I mean everybody) loved to see Stevie Nicks. Because if someone there didn't love Stevie, then what the hell were they doing there? (Possible exceptions: 80 year old mothers, chaperoning former teenagers, now 50?)
But, as I said, the person who had the most in-your-face momentum up there was unquestionably Buckingham. Even in his 60s, the guy was somehow still an insatiable ball of energy. Toward the end of the show, I remember him playing through "I'm So Afraid," giving a massive extended guitar solo where he just started POUNDING those guitar strings. Also, during another song, he stood at the very edge of the stage and lowered his guitar, letting the people in the front row haphazardly strum at the strings. It was just a whole lotta crazy noise. Which is something, of course, that makes for a great rock concert.
I could have stood to be closer, though. Occasionally I get early notice of concerts, so I can have stabs at getting “fan seats,” but this time I had to sit in the balcony. The band looked insect sized. But thanks to big screen movie, I was able to check out the details... of their wrinkles! (Or awesome wrinkles, rather.)
They started the set-list with the first song that started Rumours, which was a great choice! All the Rumours stuff of course got huge reactions from the crowd, especially from me, as I've listened to that album... waaaay more times than all the other ones. (And that's not to say I don't love the other ones.) They also played “Go Your Own Way,” “Gold Dust Woman,” “The Chain,” “Don't Stop,” and, as I've already mentioned, “Dreams.” They were also, naturally, going to play through more of their well-loved songs, “Rhiannon,” “Gypsy,” “Landslide” (which was, appropriately, a quiet, intimate moment on stage), and “Eyes of the World” (kind of an odd choice but appreciated because of that).
Speaking of odd choices, they played through a bunch of songs from Tusk. Buckingham said how nice it was that people were finally starting to “get” what they were trying to do with that album. And, even me, I had to take a few passes at the album (mostly during the months preceding this show) to finally get around to appreciating it. Also, one of the songs from Tusk turned out to be the highlight of the concert for me, a song that I wasn't even sure I completely noticed until this concert: the title track. Well, I guess the song was a difficult thing not to notice, as it has a marching band drumbeat and LOUD trumpet synths that blared out at me over those mega-loud-speakers like nuclear blasts. It was amazing! Other songs from Tusk also included one of my favorite mystical ballads from Nicks (although there are probably about six of those), “Sara;” one of Buckingham's most crazed rock 'n' rollers (which is actually saying something) “Not That Funny;” and another Nicks tune (not her best but still good) “Sisters of the Moon.”
I would have liked to have seen Christine McVie there, as there was a noticeable void on stage where she would have stood. However, I guess she's moved on. (Though it seems she might be thinking about returning to the group. In which case, I'll have to go to another Fleetwood Mac concert if they come by here again.)
I also enjoyed seeing Mick Fleetwood. Perhaps he isn't the most celebrated member of the group--other than being the backbone and partly the band's namesake--but, look. The guy had a gong!!! Also, he has an infectious old-man smile. That smile looked two stories tall on that big screen. ...Regarding the gong, it probably would have behooved me to watch carefully to see whether he ever used it, but I must've been so gaga-eyed over seeing Stevie Nicks at the show that I forgot to notice.
At one point, Nicks said that she'd spent the last few weeks slumming around in Canada and that she was glad to finally be in her own country. Which had me wondering what on earth Canada was doing to her? Because the number of times I've been to Canada, it struck me as remarkably reminiscent of the United States! (Maybe it's because they use kilometers on their road signs? ...Yeah, Canada, so behind the times that they're still using kilometers.)
Also, I learned a very important lesson about encores at this show. The show isn't over until the house-lights go on. We had aisle seats, and after the first encore, we started to leave. But when we were already in the stadium walkway, we heard them come back on stage for a second encore. I didn't really want to miss anything, so I decided to walk back to my seat. Which were then occupied by people who had also started to leave but turned back when the second encore started. ...I still decided to squeeze myself in that row, though, because those seats cost a whole boatload of change! They were still my seats, even if they were vacated for a bit!
They performed the final song from Rumors, “Silver Springs,” and then a song I'd never heard before, “Say Goodbye,” which was from one of their new albums. (What? You mean Fleetwood Mac existed past the '80s?) That's a beautiful folk-rock tune, anyway, and surely a quaint way to end the concert.
And what a concert it was! It might only have been the first of 15 concerts of Summer of 2013, but it turned out to be one of the all-time best. (I'm writing this review so late that I've already been to all 15 of these summer concerts! And then some!)
There really weren't a whole lot of funny things going on around me with the audience members that I could tell, as typical Fleetwood Mac fan tended to more or less resemble ordinary people. Which must be why they play big stadiums. The exception is one person I noticed, a particularly angry man who was about 50 and wore a ball cap. He kept bugging a poor usher nearby me to call the police, because there were people in his seat. This guy was carrying on, scowling, crossing his arms. I guess I would be angry, too, though my reaction would be to probably stand and watch in the walkway and wait for the usher to come around and tell me to go to my seat. To which I would explain that I can't because someone is sitting in it.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Live in Seattle April 7, 2013
Live in Seattle April 7, 2013
He came on stage looking like a grown-up Eddie Munster and strutted and gyrated about like an electrified Elvis, singing voice snarling of The Devil. His songs were seductive and violent. Disgusting but immersible. Loud! The melodies were fantastic, and the beats you could dance to. My eyes were transfixed to the stage most the time--I stood about 20 rows from the front. However, I would find, occasionally, that I would also watch the 40-something-year-old couple in the row in front of me who, I think, were dancing. Either that or they were possessed by some kind of nasty spirit making them spasm. Me, I am incorruptible, so I stood there for the most part with my hands in my pockets. Next to me, a leather jacketed college kid with mousse in his hair spent the majority of the concert running in place.
I came to this concert donning a sun-faded WSU ball cap and a light blue raincoat. It isn't unusual for me to go to a concert and feel like I am not fitting in. But I didn't fit into this one especially. And I take special note of people I see at concerts. Everyone else was wearing some kind of black.
So I was alone but also not alone, because that place was crowded. That is the amazing thing about going to concerts, right? I was one of about 2,500 people. Where did everyone else come from? ...They certainly didn't come from among my coworkers. Because not one of them have even heard of Nick Cave. (And that surprised me.) The people who filled that auditorium must have seeped out of the cracks of the Seattle sidewalks. (That's also likely where grunge came from.)
But wait a minute. Come to think of it, I did notice one person at this event I recognized. It was a guy I used to see in the engineering building at... well... my faded hat's namesake--and he was definitely an odd ball. I suspected he was a staff member, but I didn't know that for sure. Roughly 40-ish, I would usually see him wearing dark shorts with knee-high, striped socks, golf shoes, dangly earrings, sculpted hair, pencil mustache, and a beret. (You guys probably think I'm making that up, aren't you?) It then struck me interesting that the guy stuck out like a sore thumb in the halls of that engineering building, and yet he seemed perfectly within his environment at a Nick Cave concert. I was the oddball at the Nick Cave concert.
Not only have I heard of Nick Cave, but I'd heard of the opening act, Sharon Van Etten. There was one song of hers called "Don't Do It" which gives me the shivers. Unfortunately, she didn't perform the song that evening, but she performed plenty of other ones that have *almost* the same effect. Whether or not I'll actually be able to list any of the songs she played, by name, I don't think I can do anymore. After all, I've been writing these reviews at a glacial pace, and I didn't take notes. All I can remember is that she was *very* punctual, coming out on stage at exactly 7:00. I appreciate a good, punctual artist. I also remember that she toured around quite minimally--with just herself and a drummer (who is named Zeke). She was also quite witty.
I couldn't even find any YouTube footage of her from my concert, which is unfortunate, because she talked to the audience quite a lot, and I remember laughing. ...I do remember her saying how surreal it was to be touring around with Nick Cave, who she said had the biggest rock star personality of anyone she's ever been around.
Joe-Bob YouTube uploaded a video at another concert of Sharon Van Etten. Isn't she fabulous? Don't you just want to take her home to meet your parents?
But let's get back to the main star: Nick Cave, who from my perspective, was action-hero sized. Usually I can't quite make out distinctive facial features from such a distance, but in the case of Nick Cave, he has some pretty distinctive features. The bonus--to my particular situation--was that whoever had the two seats in front of me didn't show up. And thus there were no big heads to speak of blocking my view.
This was quite an elaborate production. Cave's sound was loud and oftentimes furious. Some of his songs would end in MASSIVE wall-of-noise freak-outs. I thought I was far back enough from the speakers that I wouldn't need to employ my trusty earplugs, but I was mistaken. As soon as it felt like my eardrums were on the verge of complaining, I would slip them in. Amazingly, when I did that, I could actually hear the freak-outs more clearly. Sans earplugs, everything was a whitewash. With earplugs, I could make out textures which--astoundingly--were quite intricate. There were many musicians up on stage all contributing to the noises: A few guitarists, of course, a guy on keyboards, a guy on drums, a guy on miscellaneous percussion, and a bearded man named Warren Ellis who played the violin quite furiously (I also caught him playing guitar and the flute). This guy went at it with his violin so violently that the bow was completely torn to shreds by the end of the show. I mean, there was horsehair flying everywhere. Mayhem. I was seated rather to the side of the stage, and I didn't notice until viewing YouTube footage later that there were also two back-up singers present!
As for Cave, though, I had trouble believing he was in his mid '50s with all those kicks and jumps he did. He was also constantly hitting on the ladies in the front rows. ...And the ladies were totally into it! My God!!! I had trouble trying to figure out if all of that was genuine or just part of his bad-boy character. I'm assuming the latter, but he keeps me guessing. I believe it was when he was in the middle of singing "Red Right Hand," he was knelt over the stage, stared a lady right into the face, and changed one of his lyrics to "I don't like the guy you come here with." He also may or may not have picked up a groupie at the end of the show. It was some teenage girl who was wearing a sort of draped, Greek gown and a gold band in her hair. He said to her: "You are a beautiful thing." Then as he was leaving the stage after the final song (which was "Push the Sky" off his latest album), he said to everybody "I will see you later!" and then pointed to that girl and said "And I will see you----." ...Yeah, I heard the blanks.
But good lawdy, what a show this was. It was out of another dimension, for sure. It was tons more intense than I am generally used to. ...I'm very certain the best song performed that evening was "Red Right Hand," but that also could be the best song that guy ever wrote. That giant chime hit and timpani hits that you remember from the studio version were so loud that they could have been ushering in Death itself. I'm alive still, somehow. It was crazy awesome.
In the middle of the set, he gave my eardrums a bit of a break and performed a trio of his morose ballads. "Love Letter," "People Ain't No Good," and "No More Shall We Part." Otherwise, the concert was total mayhem. Overall, it was a very good mix between his old and new stuff. He performed "From Her to Eternity" from his very first album to "Higgs Boson Blues" from his latest. Other great moments: "The Weeping Song," "The Mercy Seat," and "Stagger Lee."
His set-list was pretty well set-in-stone. As you might have heard in that video above, people all over the place were screaming out song requests. At one point, I remember him very snidely telling the audience that he's willing to perform any song they want... as long as it is on the set-list. I heard him roll his eyes when he said that. When he came out for the encore, he said "Does anyone have any requests?" But that was insincere, because immediately afterward, the band went into performing "Tupelo." My God, what a creepy song.
Anyway, this was an experience for the ages. (I'm so late in writing this review that... I'm going to see him again in a few months.)
Janis Ian Live in Seattle April 6, 2013
Live in Seattle April 6, 2013
I saw Janis Ian at a venue called The Triple Door. Here's a riddle for you: Why is this particular Seattle venue called "The Triple Door?" The answer: it has three doors out front!
Yes, it was that simple. But the name precludes them from ever expanding their business, should they ever want to install, say, a fourth door. It also precludes them from cutting heating costs or instigating better crowd control by removing a door. ...Indeed, I'd imagine these guys are pretty much stuck with having three doors. Unless they want guests to annoyingly ask why the place is called "The Triple Door" when that's clearly not the number of doors out there. In the end: They are stuck with three.
This place is also a sort of dinner theater. You are supposed to order dinner, eat it, and then the act comes out. I usually don't have problems with going to concerts alone; however, going to restaurants alone, I find depressing. This is why I almost never go to this place, unless I can drag my parents to it. (For instance, I couldn't quite sell them on going to see Os Mutantes who came by this venue. ...I know, I probably should have went to see them anyway, or tried to find a concert buddy, or something. But it's tough enough as it is for me to run across people who are relatively near my age who doesn't want to hang around their spouses all the time.)
The tickets were pretty cheap ($22 a piece plus fees); however, the food wasn't ($22 a piece plus tips). The food was mostly Thai. ...I didn't actually see it advertised anywhere, but the food obviously came from the Thai restaurant next door. That would usually be great, because Thai cuisine is among the finer cuisines. Except I decided to experiment and ordered some kind of seafood noodle thing, which was basically a giant mass of gooey, salty noodles sprinkled with random bits of seafood. It basically had no flavor apart from the salt on the noodles (which I thought there was too much of) and the natural flavor of the seafood (which I guess I don't always find inherently appealing). That's a good restaurant, though, as I've been there a few times before; I just ordered the wrong thing.
The seating was a bit awkward. The table seated six and we were three. The booth was tight, and the place was packed. That meant we had to share the table with three strangers. One stranger didn't have the same hang-up as I do about going to restaurants alone. And he didn't make eye contact with anyone except for the waitress. The other two sitting at my table were two women, about 50s-ish. I was sitting next to one of these strangers, and the seats were so tight that our thighs were touching.
Apart from that awkwardness, the venue was quite nice, as we were quite close to the stage (about 30 feet and just a bit to the side). I was also a little surprised when no one asked to see our tickets when we went in. A young lady asked for our names, we gave it to her, and we were seated! ...Why, that made me feel, er, important, or something!
Janis Ian was a lone singer-songwriter armed with nothing but an acoustic guitar. She also toured with an opening act, Diana Jones, who was another female singer-songwriter armed with nothing but an acoustic guitar. I enjoyed Jones quite well and figure her stuff is worth getting into a little more. She strikes me as more of a pure folkie than Janis Ian--that is, her songs are based more on traditional melodies and lyrics. Ian tours around like she's a folkie; however, her singer-songwriter stuff is pop all the way!
The setlist wasn't enormous and Ian played through quite a bit of material I wasn't familiar with. But given my lack of expertise in her stuff that aspect didn't surprise me much. She had morphed into an old lady, with white hair that was cut short. These physical features were things she'd commented on that while she was up there. (And thus, I don't really feel bad for pointing that out.) And she did make a number of self-despairing comments, like how often her partner reminds her that she isn't a terribly sophisticated person. For instance, Ian is a huge sci-fi geek--not something I would have figured--but also not something you would advertise to a group of people in group of people in tuxedos. ...Which, by the way, nobody at this event was wearing. She commented that she saw an awful lot of flannel out in the audience, so she decided to change wardrobe during the brief intermission. However, all I think I noticed was different was that she'd come back wearing sandals. (Who dresses up to go to a folk concert, anyway?)
Oh, by the way, Janis Ian is a lesbian. Such information isn't necessarily pertinent to any review I'd write of any artist, especially since I've seen plenty of lesbians perform on stage and don't usually find occasion to point that out; however, she talked about that aspect of her life a lot. She lives in Nashville, where her fellow citizens aren't so prone to accepting people who don't fit within their view of what people are. She said she was out shopping for wedding dresses in that area, and it took the shop owner awhile to figure out they were planning to marry each other--as opposed to having concurrent weddings. And when the shop owner did figure it out, she said "Well, bless your heart!" Ian went onto say if you hear someone from the South say this phrase to you, it isn't a term of endearment: It's a thickly veiled expression of disapproval. Until she realized that, Ian said, she used to feel pretty great about being on the receiving end of that comment.
So for a time, before states in the US had started legalizing gay marriage, she'd gotten married to her partner in Canada. But when she returned home to the USA their marriage was no longer recognized. I guess she didn't really feel angry about that until she happened to find herself in England gay marriage was legalized over there. Upon returning to the States, she was suddenly not again. She'd found enough absurdity in the situation to become inspired to write the song "Married in London," which she performed that evening.
(Looks like she's been telling the same story everywhere she goes! Here is a performance from 2011 in England. The version she told at the performance I saw, however, had some added detail.)
She did get out of the way early on in the set is the one song that I know her best for: "Society's Child." The reason I got tickets to go to this event in the first place was because I had recently bought a box set of her first four albums. What prompted me to get that box set was specifically the first song of the collection: "Society's Child." I had wondered if Janis Ian was still around (I had no idea). So I looked up her website and discovered--lo and behold!--she was about to do a local show!
"Society's Child" was the first song Ian ever wrote (at 15 years of age on the school bus), and it caused an uproar when it was released. It's about an interracial relationship. Of course nowadays people don't give two glances to people in interracial relationships! So maybe by 2040 it will be safe to be gay in Texas? (But we must all heed the warnings of Pat Robertson--that if we give into the gays today, people in 40 years are going to want to marry their pet chickens.)
She played the song with her acoustic guitar, of course, but she plucked at the strings minimally, playing it almost like a bossa nova. In other words, it sounded way different than the original version that we all know and love! Another reason it sounded different was because Ian's voice had shifted from a soprano to an alto. But her voice continued to carry itself well.
I would imagine in the late '60s and early '70s Ian was labeled as a one-hit wonder. But that all ended when she came out with another big hit in 1975, "At Seventeen." Naturally, she also performed that song that evening. Another song I instantly recognized (and one that I think is a little better than "At Seventeen") is a beautiful, morose ballad called "Stars."
She was playing all these recognizable songs and she'd been on stage for well over an hour, so I figured the set must've been coming to a close soon! For the closing song of the set, she invited Diana Jones back out to the stage to do a duet with her. The song they performed together was "I'm Still Standing Here," one of those songs I'd never heard before! The two's voices melded together wonderfully, and--to be honest--I thought the concert would have been even better if the two had performed more songs together. Before singing the song, she asked people to take out their cell phones and record the performance! ...And look! Someone recorded it.
And with that, the concert was over, apart for the encore of course. Due to me being wedged so tightly within a booth this entire time, I couldn't give her a standing ovation. However, despite my lack of standing, she still felt encouraged enough to come back for the encore to perform two final songs. The first was one of her more well-known pieces, a very moving rendition of "Jesse." The second song she introduced as an old English folk song she learned at school but said that we should all know the words. ...I thought I was going to hear something off one of those stuffy, early Joan Baez albums, or something, but then she proceeded to sing Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe!" (Ha ha ha!) I saw from some YouTube footage from the show she gave a few days earlier in Portland that she performed the song alone and changed the words a little bit. At this performance, however, she brought out Diana Jones on stage with her and they performed it straight, more or less. Except, at the end she ad-libbed a verse "Well we are here in Seattle now / It's better than Olympia somehow / I'd love to stay here and play for you / But I am running over the curfew." (And yes, I was only able to type that word-for-word, because somebody posted a video of it!)
So anyway, it was a great show, and I am glad I was able to drag my parents to it! (Though seriously, what the heck I am doing dragging my parents to see artists from their own generation? ...Why can't I think of anything more witty to say about this?)
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