And the trees are stripped bare
Of all they wear
What do I care
And kingdoms rise
And kingdoms fall
But you go on…..
I wouldn’t have survived the 2004 election were in not for the special extended edition DVDs of the Lord of the Rings trilogy—an entire world to get lost in. Likewise, I don’t think I would’ve survived the last month of all Sarah Palin news all the time were it not for the exquisite distraction of 3 stellar live shows. I’ve had bits of papers of notes from these shows, and am finally getting around to compiling them. There’s been too much “Obamaphoria” to concentrate on anything else. I read a great Frank Rich column in which he says something to the effect that we’re finally able to recover from our 8 year abusive relationship with our government. I thought it was a brilliant analogy, and helps explain why we’ve all been walking around with our heads in the clouds for days. It’s a new world.
Literary death rock.
This show was a 68th birthday present for my mother, so my folks came down for a visit and I drove us to DC. Remarkably, they were not the oldest people in the crowd, but they were probably the oldest people there who were not allowed to drink. Yes, that’s right, we were carded (of course!), thanks to their freakish fountain of youth daughter (come on people-- I have wrinkles all across my forehead, and laugh lines, too, I do not look under 21!) And, of course, being the responsible senior citizens they are, they left all of their credit cards, IDs, etc. back in my apartment in
The openers were more monotonous than monotonous, and I don’t even remember their name. And then it happened, Nick and company took the stage, looking like a haggard band of pirates/gypsies/Amish settlers—all thin men in weathered suits, with long, straggly hair. And there he was, the ring master of this motley crew, as seedy and sinister as Mack the Knife, and as sinewy as Mick Jagger. He would be the sexiest 51 year old I know were in not for the pedophile mustache (seriously!), but it’s no wonder Polly Jean and the doe-eyed
Their 2008 release, “Dig, Lazurus, Dig” dominated the setlist, but they played songs from across their catalogue, including my first of their albums, 1992’s “Henry’s Dream.” It was an evening of pure theater, but at the same time, remarkable music. They are not simply vampiric in style and image, but also play like the undead—beautifully and relentlessly. I’ve never heard so many lyrics about God and dead lovers—but it’s a testament to his skill as a songwriter and the musicianship of the Bad Seeds, that this never dissolves into art school drivel. It completely works, and you’re transported to another world. The evening can be summed up with the chorus from ‘Deanna”: I ain’t down here for your money, I ain’t down here for your love, I’m down here for your soul…
1. Hold On to Yourself
2. Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
4. The Weeping Song
5. Red Right Hand
7. God is in the House (1st half only, missed the lines, so he just stopped it)
8. Love Letter
9. Today's Lesson
10. The Mercy Seat
13. Papa Won't Leave You, Henry
14. More News From Nowhere
15. Your Funeral... My Trial
16. Jesus of the Moon
17. Get Ready for Love
18. Stagger Lee
I was a lover before this war.
TV On the Radio
I discovered the
I first heard them live during the summer at Merriweather Post Pavilion outside of
The Electric Factory— in newly gentrified northern Philly – is similar to the Club. I wanted to be close to the stage, and wasn’t planning on drinking, so I joined the under 21 crowd on the floor. From what I could see, it was your typical indie rock crowd (young, white, predominantly male hipsters), but certainly more racially diverse than Nick Cave’s crowd, whether this was because it’s Philly or because the band members are predominantly African-American I’m not sure. Race is always discussed in regards to TVOTR, and every review/interview describes them as a black rock band, as if that’s an anomaly. The band members are always quick to point out that despite the popularity of hip hop and R&B, rock ‘n roll has historically been black music, so the fuss is much ado about nothing.
TV on the Radio ARE, in fact, an anomaly, but not because of race, but because of their SOUND. Their combination of rock, new wave, and funk is courtesy of their dual frontmen, Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone, and multi-instrumentalist (and “it” producer, notably of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and (cringe!) Scarlett Johansson’s album of Tom Waits covers) David Andrew Sitek. The band is rounded out by Gerard Smith on bass and Jaleel Bunton on drums. Following
Far from my teenage days of wanting bands only to myself (it was so sad to share beloved bands with the unworthy masses!), I want TV on the Radio to be multi-millionaires who sell records worldwide. I want everyone to know their name. TV on the Radio is not Radiohead (even though their debut EP was named ‘OK Calculator’!). But they have the potential to be.
The Wrong Way
Wolf Like Me
Blues From Down Here
Shout Me Out
Staring at the Sun
Talking to the tax man about poetry.
Billy Bragg with the Watson Twins - 10/28/08
Ram’s Head Live, Baltimore
I first discovered Billy Bragg after hearing my sister’s college radio show when I was in high school, and then saw him live for the first time while living in
I’d never been to Ram’s Head before, and must confess I totally misjudged it. For some reason I was under the impression that that whole area catered to the fake tan and fake nails set, probably because that’s the crowd I spied when waiting for the last Harry Potter book to come out while people watching the kids at the anime convention (they were the cutest alternative kids in the world, if I was born 2 decades later I would’ve so been there as Princess Mononoke!). Anyway, Ram’s Head turned out to be a great place to see a show, and for the first time in 35 years, I was right up against the stage, right under Billy’s microphone. Woohoo! I met a nice couple who first saw Billy in the 80s, and had seen him hundreds of times since. They were also huge Pogues fans. I didn’t tell them my story of seeing Shane in
The Watson Twins—2 pretty sisters with pretty voices from Louisville, KY—opened with a set of pleasant but utterly forgettable acoustic ballads. Billy opened the show with ‘Help Save The Youth Of America,’ a cold-war era song that includes the line “the cities of
One of the evening’s highlights for me--in a monologue about Obama and how 1 person can’t fix everything but can still make a significant difference—was when Billy talked about how disappointed he was in Tony Blair, but how, despite everything—the war, Blair’s support of Bush—he was still partly responsible for peace in Northern Ireland, something Billy never expected to see in his lifetime. Something Billy had to give him credit for. Now, I don’t need to tell you what this meant to me. My jaw and my stomach must’ve both been on the floor. It’s been a great disappointment to me that the left in this country has such an easy time romanticizing the struggles of ‘the other’—why, for instance, Baltimore’s radical bookstore, Red Emma’s, sells Zapatista coffee, but not, say, Irish republican army breakfast tea (!!!)—and not examining conflicts like
But we just elected an African-American man named Barack Hussein Obama as President, so all things are possible…“I don’t want to change the world, I’m not looking for a new England, I’m just looking for another girl…..”
Couldn’t find a setlist online, but he played these songs (in no particular order):
Help Save The Youth Of
Shirley (Greetings To The New Brunette)
The Milkman of Human Kindness
A Lover Sings
I Keep Faith
There Is Power In A
Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards
Levi Stubbs Tears
Sing Their Souls Back Home (with The Watson Twins)