Thursday, October 09, 2014

Laid Bare

Something about this year, for music, as almost all the music I have seen has been stripped down bare concerts that I dreamt of in my forlorn youth when I listened to musicians. Mark Lanegan was a good example, just Mark and the guitar. Nick and the Piano. Maybe it’s not just the music, maybe it is just a year to deconstruct and be torn down. I see it everywhere, experience it in all the major experiences. Like Tori.

Of course Tori.

The shame and hilarity of my Tori Amos concert is that I completely forgot a had a Tori Amos concert to go to until literally the day of the Tori Amos concert when I realized I had two tickets and no dates. I asked around in the office but no one wanted to come, so eventually decided I’d rescue some poor Tori fan off the street if I had to.

I went, got some food, and headed over to the theater, where a cute red head stood next to me and started to smoke.

We started to talk and I asked her where she was from. Turns out somewhere in Iowa. She wanted to see Tori, but her boyfriend had ditched at the last minute leaving her, like me with an extra ticket.

“Where are your seats?” I asked.

“Nose bleeds. I mean, I’ll have  better view of mars, but it’s Tori, so it’s worth it.”

“Want to upgrade?”

She looked at me. I had borrowed a pen from her a minute earlier. I showed her what I had written on the ticket.

“Free to a good Tori fan.”

“Are you shitting me?”




“Can I give you anything?”

“You can buy me a drink.”

And so it was settled that my date would be a cute red head who would buy me a drink. That worked out. My tickets were so close to Tori I could practically feel her hands running over me instead of the piano. What was more, though, was the concert, while the tour for Unrepentant Geraldines, had very little music from Unrepentant Geralidnes. Apparently in the midst of her midlife crisises she wanted to prove to her daughter and everyone else that she still had it.

So for the tour she packed only a Bosendorfer and her fabulous self. For each city she played a different set, and for each city she specially selected covers for the famed lizard lounge of the 97 Choir Girls tour. It was Tori the way Tori was meant to be viewed, bare, raw, just her and the Piano.

Like Nick.

Like Mark.

All of the legends that I love, that are warm to my heart have spent the year baring themselves, their souls to audiences that care to listen.

Perhaps it is a sign, maybe the beginning of a movement.

The power of it, this naked performance, though, has had an impact even if I remain unsure exactly how I am seeing this manifested day to day. I’ve also come to feel laid bare in my performance but in being so exposed feel more like myself than I have in a year.

Perhaps that is the message.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Nick Cave and a Piano

The lights dim, an audience clap.

Directors take the stage and explain how the evening will go. Mr. Cave will come on stage. He will take questions and request. He will have about 90 minutes to sit there with him as he answers questions and describes his process.

The directors would also answer some question.

Interns were issued into the audience to take questions and requests from us.

And then Nick Cave came onto the stage and sat down at the piano. Which was really all any of us needed.

At first there were a smattering of questions, mostly from the directors thanking him for the film, etc. Asking him how he was, his experience with New York, etc. We mostly ignored him.

Nick Cave played with the keys on the piano. And then launched into the Weeping Song.

The audience was transfixed. Nick Cave completely stripped down to nothing but his voice and the piano is an absolute experience. The lyrics and key changes are pasted to lyrics cards that are tagged to a black poster board. Nick selects the board and places it on the piano to keep him on point as he moves there.

There are a number of questions some uninteresting: “What’s it like being a performer?” which he basically refuses to answer. Some, too pointed and too personal “What kind of music do your boys like?” “I’ve promised my boys I will not discuss their lives in public.” Most of the questions would have been in some way answered by the film, but there were still a few that were interesting and allowed for a kind of insight into Cave that were fascinating.

One related to the construction of a song and the life of the song to which the response was fascinating. For Cave some songs have certainly evolved over time, developing and changing, like No More Shall We Part, which has gone from lighter to darker over the years in different ways. The songs themselves feel like the decide who they are, and just like anyone else, over time, on stage, as they are played, they grow different. I found this a fascinating perspective and one that made me even more interested in Cave’s live performances to see the difference in songs as they progress over the years. I can imagine that many others feel this way as well.

Another question related to the music that he wished he had written. This tossed him back to his childhood, not that his family life was bad or haunted, but that the city he lived in was one that made it feel like there was no future. This was something I could certainly relate to.

The album that defined those years and made him feel like there was more to life was one by Leonard Cohen. Songs of Love and Hate. We were treated with a Nick Cave cover of Avalanche which was absolutely perfect.

The entire thing was a mix of Nick Cave and ballads, he owned the piano and we were happy to let him guide us through a tour of songs. The audience yelled out all sort of things, but Cave played really only what he wanted to play. It was perfect.

The show ended with a final question which was why Nick Cave was giving away one of his typewriters (a prize theoretically being sent off to some twitter person that wasn’t actually there.” The exchange was pretty amusing.

Girl “Why would you give away something of such value, that is clearly so important to you?”(The typewriter was featured prominently in the film?”

Cave: “To be honest when they asked me for it I didn’t know they were giving the fucking thing away. So, no, you can’t have it.”

In the end, when the director asked Cave to pick the best of the “twitter questions” he just negated the entire thing and declared the typewriter belong to the girl who asked about it, and so she walked out with the most coveted and beautiful of blue typewriters.

The rest of us got to go home with our memories. It was worth it.