This has been a year of much live music and travel for same. There was only one concert I saw locally and reviewed before the big shows began in earnest in September. The XX were very enjoyable and I went even though I had not yet heard their music on the premise that their star was rising so fast, I’d surely never get the chance again. The sold out show proved that last thesis beyond a shadow of a doubt. Afterward, I bought their debut and still need “Coexist.”
Having decided to sell of unneeded/unwanted music to finance new purchases was an incredible freedom to get what few new releases that livened up my Spring. I managed to dump $300 into buying things that I wanted as well as the occasional oldie but goodie before the onslaught of the endless ROCKtober Tour that served to have me pile up the cash from music sales to pay for the travel and ticket costs. I got to see John Cale and Pere Ubu at the Hopscotch Festival in Raleigh, but the high cost of passes was a wash with the sound mix for Cale driving us from the venue midway.
Thankfully, Pere Ubu were riveting as they had a fantastic new album they were touring behind and they are driven to excellence with a band capable of reaching that goal. We didn’t get to see any other acts since just meeting with our friends and dining took the entire evening up to the midnight times of the two shows we did see. No huge loss. The only other act I really wanted to see was Adult. and wouldn’t you know, they conflicted with Cale.
Simple Minds in Washington D.C. were incredible. I had waited eleven years since the band were last in the States and had a lot of pent-up demand that they more than met me with halfway with their fantastic performance. The exchange of energy between the band and the people attending was palpable and viscous. That I was there this time with my wife as well as chasinvictoria [just like the last time in 2002] was icing on the cake. It was great fun getting to really meet Echorich, the unstoppable commenter on this blog. Moreover, hearing the band perform material like “The American” and “This Fear Of Gods” on what was ostensibly a “greatest hits” tour was more than welcome. After 32 years and two prior concerts by this band, I had a new benchmark for pure concert satisfaction.
Just a handful of days after seeing Simple Minds, we had tickets for Sparks live on their “Revenge Of Two Hands, One Mouth World Tour” which began in Atlanta, Georgia. My old comrade-in-New-Wave, chasinvictoria, was still with us for this trip as we were the first to see this triumphant new show. The song list had been severely overhauled from the earlier tour they completed in the Spring and was frankly, even better! The pared down arrangements for keys and voice called even greater attention to the song’s brilliance. Russell Mael was a torrent of energy as he attacked these amazing songs; being fleet of voice and foot in what used to be called retirement age. Having him conduct us singing along with “Suburban Homeboy” was a happy-making experience I’ll never forget.
It was a few weeks later that we traveled to Athens, Georgia for what was a spellbinding concert by Televison in the newly rebuilt Georgia Theatre. The band were only playing three shows in America this year, and we were lucky enough to have stumbled onto a print ad touting this event in the Hopscotch Festival program guide early in September. We bought tickets for the sold out show on the spot and were treated to an astonishing performance that was among the finest guitar playing I’d ever seen. The way that Tom Verlaine and Jimmy Rip wove their spell was breathtaking. I was familiar with “Marquee Moon” but that didn’t begin to account for how the music sounded live, 35 ears later.
Friend and commenter Brian Ware admonished me to not miss Johnny Marr on his first solo tour and he backed his endorsement with a copy of Marr’s excellent solo album, “The Messenger.” Live, he was every bit as dynamic and engaging as the album was with a fair number of Smiths songs for those who had lost their patience that Morrissey would ever actually show up to a gig scheduled in this town. [He’s 0 for 3 in Asheville, currently]
Finally, the last concert road trip occurred early this month when we went to Charlotte to see Hugh Cornwell. Like Sparks, Cornwell was another performer I’d been a fan of for decades with little hope of ever seeing live, but this year, something in the water convinced both Sparks and him to venture into the American Southeast. The venue was shaky. The turnout was modest. It could have been a regretful gig, but the band really delivered and made it a memorable and enjoyable gig. Hugh’s new album was terrific, and he wisely performed most of it along with a series of Stranglers classics. Finally hearing songs like “Duchess” and “Skin Deep” live was deeply gratifying. They were my favorite Cornwell Stranglers songs and having them played in person was a gift. Afterward, Hugh was personable at the merch table for the fans as he tried to upsell me to the double live album from the last tour. I stuck to my guns. I wanted those Tony Visconti acoustic demos!
The last month has seen me still selling music furiously to buy first one, and now a second Moogfest Ticket for my wife to also attend Moogfest 2014. We enjoyed the last Moogfest in 2012, and the upcoming one has Laurie Anderson playing, so my wife is in for that. Hopefully, with 70% of the lineup TBA, the John Foxx + The Maths concert of our dreams will also happen, but if not, at least Kraftwerk 3D is a good consolation prize.
– 30 –