Saturday, May 03, 2008

Today, I am a Loungeroom Lizard

Oy, my eyelids are drooping. I fear I do look a little reptilian today. Do I ever need some jet fuel coffee right now. Good thing I'm in a coffee shop!

So, when I last wrote, I was a ball of emotion - anxiety, excitement, fear (of cars), breathless anticipation. Let me catch you up...

Friday was a very good day, indeed.

First, the attorney meeting went really well. We spent an hour together. I gave him the two-minute Reader's Digest condensed version of the past three years of my life, so he knew just how utterly messed up things had become before I got rammed last September. This guy was cool, confident, funny, and made me feel very secure about how he'll handle my case. Well, cases. A separate file for each of the two accidents. I no longer have to talk to the insurance companies. All he wants me to do is to concentrate on is therapy and getting better. Awesomeness.

I left his office feeling better than I have in quite some time. All the anxiety of Thursday seemed to vanish as I drove home, listening to Crowded House with the windows down on a gorgeous 80-degree day. I curled up for a quick nap at home -- I wanted to be rested before heading downtown to meet up with the Sasquatch for the concert. I blinked - barely felt like I'd slept at all - and suddenly it was 4 in the afternoon. I put two of those huge sticky arthritis pain patches on my back, brushed my teeth, brushed my hair, and, for the first time in months, even put on some makeup. This was a special occasion, after all.

The drive downtown should have been easier, but you would have thought it was morning rush hour with all the cars jamming the roads into DC. I had told the Sasquatch I would meet him at 5:30, so we could bolt over to the 9:30 Club and he could get in line in the hopes of snagging a bar stool up in the balcony (one was already set aside for me and my bad back, thank god.) I felt bad that I was only able to pick him up at 5:45 or so, pretty much shooting down the chance at a stool for him. Some of my anxiety had returned during the drive into the city - mostly because I was, superstitiously, afraid my car accident/concert big bad voodoo karma was going to kick in. You can ask the Squatch-man - I was a bit of a biyotch behind the wheel. (And I apologize to my tall arboreal friend for being an uptight tool in the car!!) My mood lightened when a spiffy Mercedes convertible pulled up alongside us in traffic with "Nobody Wants To" pouring out the speakers. I knew the driver was headed the same place we were. One of the tribe, headed to Mecca, to hear the words and music and, for a few fleeting hours, be part of something bigger, something wonderful.

When we got to 9:30, the line was already halfway down the block -- I'd read online that some folks were planning on lining up at 4:30, so the truth is, we likely wouldn't have been much closer to the front, even if I'd been on-time to rescue my friend from the corner of 18th & Penn. Sadly, the Sasquatch didn't get a stool, but he was a real trouper all night, standing next to my fidgety self, legs too short to really be comfy on a bar stool.

We had good company for the gig, snuggled up to the bar. Just below us, the Australian Embassy had rented out the other balcony tier, and the Aussies rocked out all night. Just behind me was a couple from New Zealand. Her parents had just flown in Christchurch in the morning, and their jetlagged selves were tasked with watching the kiddies while mum and dad saw Crowded House. (Apparently grandmum and granddad were cool with being abandoned on Day One, as they are Split Enz fans who had just gone to one of the New Zealand dates on the Enz tour just a few weeks ago. Cool family!) The folks to my right happened to be a Frenz forum member and his lovely wife. They're Maryland folks, too, and turns out he'd been here to the blog and had contacted his state senator about the cell phone legislation! I thought that was really amazing. (And if you happen to be dropping by, Above the Kitchen, thanks again for that! And thanks, too, for the good conversation - it was a pleasure indeed to meet you guys last night! Always nice to meet another Prefab Sprout fan, too!) To the Sasquatch's left was a huge Dolby fan. Small musical world, eh?

Now, what shall I say about the concert? Something I've waited 2+ decades to experience?

It was pretty brilliant. Really wonderful. Fan-freaking-tastic. Everything I could have asked for or hoped for in seeing one of my favorite bands ever.

I have to sing the praises of Don McGlashan, who was not only the opening act, but also the de facto fifth member of Crowded House last night, joining the guys on several numbers. If you're not familiar with this excellent Kiwi singer-songwriter, it's worth your time to investigate both his solo work and his work with the now defunct (but awfully good) band The Mutton Birds. The man is multi-talented, and over the course of the evening, he played the euphonium, guitar, pocket trumpet, ukulele, and a toy piano (which was hilarious.)

Most of the audience didn't give McGlashan his due - the chatter level never really eased up to let his tunes filter through. But some of the audience was grooving on it. Since this gig was also part of my Concert Trifecta 40th b-day gift for the Sasquatch, I was really excited that McGlashan played a Mutton Birds song my friend really loves, "A Thing Well Made." I think that made his night.

Crowded House made my night. The audience loved them, and the band showered us with love in return. They played for more than two hours - old songs, new songs, sing-a-longs, call and response, with the sound of 1200 happy people answering Neil's voice from the stage. There's something so wonderful in seeing the man who wrote these songs standing there, eyes closed, smiling away at us carrying his tune. It's not just a concert, it's a fairly transcendent experience.

Now, if you're going to see the Crowdies on this tour and you don't want to know last night's set list, close your eyes and page down a little bit (that's mostly for you, Aoife O'Meara!!) They played for almost 2 1/2 hours and played songs very old, very new (as in, unrecorded as of yet), and some songs utterly obscure - what Neil dubbed a visit to "Obscurity Corner":

Everything Is Good For You
World Where You Live
Isolation (new song)
Turn It Around (new song)
Distant Sun
Whispers & Moans
Nails in my Feet
789 (new song)
Either Side of the World (new song)
English Trees
Don't Dream It's Over
Four Seasons in One Day
Twice if You're Lucky (new song)
Weather With You

First Encore:
Locked Out
Private Universe
Into Temptation
Something So Strong
Washington Monument song (goofy, improvised on the spot)

Second Encore:
Pineapple Head
Mansion in the Slums (first time they performed it in 20 years)
She Goes On
Better Be Home Soon

They have such an amazing array of songs they could have played. This was a pretty damn fine setlist in my estimation. The song "Pineapple Head" makes me want to dance and spin around (a little tough on a bar stool in the balcony, but I danced in my head.) And finishing up with "Better Be Home Soon" couldn't have made me happier - Neil sang for us, and we sang for Neil. It was a lovely way to wrap up. The Sasquatch said he'd like to be as good at something as Neil is at making music. (Wouldn't we all???) El Squatchito also noted that, with all the songs he has in his repertoire, Neil doesn't use lyric cheat sheets or a teleprompter as many performers do with such a large catalog of work to recall. Songs from Split Enz, songs from Crowded House, from the Finn Brothers, from his own solo work -- Neil has them all in his head. So, even when he flubs a line here and there (and laughs about it), it's still remarkable that his cranium can call up so many words, so many lines of notes, at a moment's notice. Pretty astounding.

What made the concert all the better? I saw Crowded House with one of the best friends I will ever have in my life. Ever. Ever. And just before the music started, he excused himself for a minute and returned with a surprise. He put a big, cool Crowded House coffee mug down in front of me and said, "THIS is from Aoife O'Meara. And THIS is from me." With that, he handed me on of the fantastic live concert CDs from the Crowdies tour I missed last year, this particular recording being the Winnipeg concert. Once again, I was dumbfounded by the lovely, meaningful generosity of my friends. I love you guys - thank you so much for making a really wonderful evening even more wonderful.

I left on Cloud Nine. I didn't even stop to try to meet the band (although I understand they stayed and talked to a group of 20 or so fans for a while last night.) The night was great, and I was - remarkably for me - bereft of anything to say. (My voice was also shot to hell and gone from singing along and offering up my war whoops between songs.) It was good enough to have just been there.

So, since I didn't stop to say it last night, thank you Neil. Thank you Nick. Thank you Mark and Matt. Thanks for making my year. I hope you come back soon.

I'm sitting in the coffee shop now, done with back cracking physical therapy for the day, listening to the Winnipeg CDs on my headphones, still trying to wake up at 1-something in the afternoon.

One more day to recover before work begins again on Monday.

Did I mention, there will be a major blast from the past coming to my place of employment this coming Wednesday night? The final element of the Sasquatch 40th Birthday Concert Trifecta. A serious trip down Nostalgia Boulevard for children of the 1970s and 80s. I'm not naming names, but I'm hoping she'll be taking us to Xanadu. {{insert cheesy grin here}} One of the strangest, yet coolest perks of my job yet!

Things have been rough, guys, no joke. But now, maybe - just maybe - things are looking up. Sometimes when things are tough, I hear a Crowded House line in my head and I remember:

Love this life/Don't wait 'til the next one comes!

It's a very good thought, no?

I'm trying hard to love this life. And right now, this life needs a very large cup of coffee.


Mary A Brown said...

Oh, Merujo, it is about time the gods gave you something to balance out the crap! I'm so happy it was a transcendent night - those times stay with you for a long time! My tickets for the concert on the 14th came today so I got a little frisson. I love the idea of you thinking of Neil and me everytime you drink your coffee now! :-)

Anonymous said...

Great review - sounds like you're having a long overdue great week. The CH show I saw last year was awesome, but I wish I would have been able to see them in a venue like the 9:30.

Spence said...

Great review. I've just uploaded a stack of Don and Mutton Birds stuff to Youtube - (or it's all embedded over at my MBs site

Great to see that some of the audience at least are appreciating him!

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Yeah, Merujo! And Split Enz?! OMG. There's a group I haven't heard of in years!

Sasquatch said...

Spence--Thanks for the links. Good stuff. The only hiccup (aside from the painful and incessant audience chatter) was an uncooperative looping machine/switch. Don McG was great, and I was glad to have a chance to see him along with CH.

*Very* good stuff indeed....

Cyn said...

Awesome!!! (And deserving of three exclamation marks.) I'm very jealous.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo to you and Sasquatchito :-)

Cyn said...

Oh, as a complete aside to Aoife -- love the hat/hair on your profile photo!

suze said...

Oh, I saw the Mutton Birds years ago at a summer outside concert headlined by the Tragically Hip (It was, in fact, 11-years-ago this summer. I feel old.) I had no idea who they were, but had to high-tail it to the merch tent the minute they stopped playing so I could grab a CD.

I'm glad you enjoyed a great concert - about time you had some good concert mojo.