Sunday, October 25, 2009


The day had finally arrived!

I left the house in darkness to catch an 8:30 AM flight out of DIA. Two and a half hours later and I was in Los Angles. The Metro Rail is an easy ride downtown where I checked in at the Stillwell Hotel. The late morning and afternoon were spent wandering the high rise section of downtown LA, enjoying the warmth and sunshine. I find it somewhat amazing that they can safely build such tall building in an earthquake prone area, but architectural engineers have figured that one out.

A man and his wife
Lay sleeping as they stormed in
Never to awake

Distant eye peering
Drone flies quietly above
Wait for its thunder

Vast desert landscape
Its human tide ebbs and flows
Pain laps its dry shore

Brilliant white light
Thrown against the mud brick wall
Hears only wailing

Parked by the curbside
A dynamite-laden car
Ride to oblivion

Cheney speaks again
Laments Bush's silence
Dummy's voice revealed

Trashed economy?
Health care? Iraq? Afgan war?
Give us Balloon Boy!

Rounds the street corner
Feels the suns heat through the haze
In her black high heels

From thirty thousand feet
Dried mud from and ancient sea
The planet's thin skin

The essence of life
Flows downhill to feed the sprawl
Owens Valley dies

Waiting at the station
Black palms against the morning haze
Hears the loud freeway

The purpose of my very short visit was to see Echo & The Bunnymen perform their Ocean Rain concert at the Nokia Theater this Saturday night. I had a quick dinner and returned to the room to change into different clothing. Then it was off to Nokia Plaza which was filled with people. Something involving Michael Jackson since there were many who had dressed up like zombies in the theme of "Thriller". At 8 oclock the doors to the Nokia Theater opened.

The warm up band, She Wants Revenge, casually took the stage and launched into a ten song set that got the audience moving. They are described as such:

"She Wants Revenge is a darkwave duo hailing from Los Angeles, California who formed in 2005. The band is comprised of Justin Warfield and Adam 12. Accompaniment members TommySheWants and Scott Ellis join them on stage. She Wants Revenge draws inspiration from various bands including Bauhaus, Depeche Mode, New Order, The Cure and The Sisters of Mercy. The band blends their influences with ever-present electronics (eg. synths and drum machines) in the style of "darkwave", a style of music reminiscent of the New Wave and Gothic Rock sounds of the 1980s."

I liked their sound and made a note to get a copy of their album.

During their performance I kept on checking the audience to see what the attendance would be like. Initially it was somewhat pathetic, with small groups of people, probably enough to fill a movie theater, scattered across this large concert hall. I asked and learned that approximately 3000 tickets were sold, out of a possible 7000. It was a respectable crowd by the time the Bunnymen took the stage.

I was seated in the front row, only several feet away from Will Sergeant. As a result of Will being front and center, I spent much of the show just watching him play his fabulous guitar, watching the movement of his hands and directly hearing the results blasting into my ears. The boys put on a great performance, sending me into the zone where I stood and danced the entire show, their music playing my emotions.

I would have gotten some great shots were it not for the fact I was warned during the break before the Bunnymen came on not take any pictures. Kind of hard to ignore when one of the event staff are seated only 7 feet away from me. It is clear that people up front receive greater attention for one reason or another.

Even though getting into the theater required passing through a metal detector, I did manage to sneak in a digital audio recorder, my first attempt to bootleg a concert. But I'm not sure what happened: I started the recorder, checked input levels and let it go. Afterwards I found out that it shut off by itself shortly after it was turned on. Got nothing. No explanation. It did not do this in all the tests I had done before. Based on the bit I did get, the recorder and mic are a great combination. I must now do some other tests at shows here in Denver before I try again in Liverpool.

Watches the six strings
Head bowed in concentration
Hands that deftly play

Stands there before him
Silhouette against the blue
Sound that captivates

In music's temple
Angels sing there before him
Draw him to the light

All good things must pass. They play their final song and then it's over. I snagged Will's set list. The crowd disperses into an empty plaza and I make my way back to the hotel. I wander the streets for some undetermined length of time, going in circles down darkened streets until I stop and check my map that gets me back home. In bed by 1AM.

"Show me your license"
Sitting cuffed on the sidewalk
Laughing like a fool

I get up at 5:30 AM and go in reverse to get back to Colorado. On my home turf by 2 PM. The great thing about being tired is that I don't stress out while flying.

Two months till the next gig with the Bunnymen.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Another busy week at the office with never enough time to get anything substantial accomplished. Everybody wants a piece of me and consequently nothing is left for myself in the end.

The chill of the past week has departed, leaving behind blue skies and pleasant Fall temperatures. My music experience this Friday night was under starry skies in the cool darkness outside the house.

According to Chris Adams:

On July 6, 1987, the release date of Echo & The Bunnymen, the band previewed the album with a brief set atop the HMV Record shop on Oxford Street in London, mimicking The Beatles' rooftop concert on The Apple Records building almost two decades earlier. In another homage to the Fab Four, they closed the performance with a delightfully ramshackled thrash through "Twist and Shout." Eighty feet in the air, the band still managed to bring traffic to a standstill on the sweltering streets below.

The person from whom I bought the album below said that it was autographed by the Bunnymen during that album launch gig on the roof in 1987.

My late start of the show meant I could only listen to one CD this evening. I chose the bands Echo & The Bunnymen album.

Echo & the Bunnymen took time off from touring, writing and recording after the release of the critically acclaimed Ocean Rain in 1984, because the band's manager, Bill Drummond, felt that a year off would help the band write different kinds of songs in preparation for the next album. An apparent lack of creative energy, changes in management, the temporary departure of their drummer (Pete de Freitas), heavy drinking and growing tensions within the band caused the recording and release of Echo & The Bunnymen to drag out for over two years.

The resulting album was disliked by the entire band. Describing what he thought of as the over-production of the album Will Sergeant described it as "an overcooked fish" in 1987; bass guitarist Les Pattinson said, "I like the songs, just hated the mixes"; and in 1995 McCulloch said, "It still sounds crap."

...we can't go on like we were in 1981. You can't get by because "we're the coolest group in the world" or whatever. We have to change as well, because all of the audience are changing. The minute you try to recreate something that's gone before, that's when somebody who has seen you a lot will think, "Hang on, this ain't as good as it was." - Ian McCulloch, 1987

This was the last album made by the original four members, Ian departing the band in 1988 and Pete dieing in a motorcycle accident in 1989.

But it was certainly good enough for me. I had a copy of the 2003 edition with 7 bonus tracks. I was dancing for the nearly 80 minutes it was playing in my headphones. And since I was deep in the "zone" by that time, I could not help but listen to several of my favorite tracks over and over again (Bedbugs and Ballyhoo, Lips Like Sugar, Jimmy Brown and Bring On The Dancing Horses). It was nearly 1 AM by the time it was all over. I dropped into bed.

The healthy debate
Those that have, argue their costs
Those without, suffer

War goals forgotten
Soldiers mission seeks honor
Die for our prestige

Violence so clean
Our hygienic use of force
The dead remain hidden

Their trumpets blaring
Hear speeches of false promise
Every lie you've heard

Monday, October 12, 2009


Getting back to basics this extended weekend. I went through the stack of music and found a show from almost exactly two years ago, Van Halen performing live at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on October 14, 2007, shortly after they began their 2007/2008 reunion tour. I was surprised to learn that this recording is one of the best out there from that tour, their performance on stage coming through loud and clear, the audience noise kept to a minimum, although there were a couple times I found myself turning around, believing someone was standing beside me this evening.

Having been born in Bloomington, Indiana (on October 10, 1954), for Dave this show was a sort of homecoming and birthday party combined. It was apparent that he was fully charged this evening, and that both he and Eddie were sincere in their having gotten back together again. It was still early in the tour. I thoroughly enjoyed the recording.

Freezing cold out side under the clear sky. This whole weekend has been nothing but icy weather, the pine trees whitened under a coat of frost. The icy fog persisted the following morning, coating the truck windshield. Winter has arrived early.

Cradled in skilled hands
Notes flying off his fingers
Pouring from his heart

There on center stage
Under the white hot spotlight
Maestro at his best

Saturday, October 10, 2009


A governor mandated furlough day scheduled for Friday meant it was a short week. Coupled with Columbus Day, it turned into a long weekend. Unfortunately, the combination of poor weather, a lack of family interest and my sons worsening cold did not result in the fruition of my original plan to do some in state traveling. Being home bound, I stayed busy with other things.

Realizing that we had no plans to leave home, I purchased a ticket Wednesday to see Snow Patrol and Plain White T's perform at the Fillmore in Denver. Thursday night an inch of snow fell at the house (the seasons first), requiring I start a fire in the fireplace to ward off the frigid outside temperature. Cleaned the garage of all the residing tools and supplies, making room for the car once again. A trip to the landfill helped remove the final evidence of a summer spent working on the house. On to other things. More snow was predicted to fall Friday night following the concert.

Plain White Ts, an American pop rock band from Chicago, opened the show. I moved up front as close as I could get without having to push through the tightening crowd around the stage. They put on a good show, which included their Grammy nominating hit "Hey There Delilah" and "1,2,3,4", and certainly warmed me up for the act to follow.

His anaesthetic
Slow drip into the bloodstream
Tequila's warm glow

Traders on Wall Street
Know death is profitable
Our red yields their green

Snow Patrol closed the show this evening. A second great performance.

Delvin Neugebauern of the Colorado Springs Gazette wrote this about the show:

DENVER - The Glasgow-based rock band Snow Patrol gave a stirring, uplifting performance to a capacity crowd at the Fillmore Auditorium on Friday night.

The show got off to a shaky start, though. During the opening song, “If There’s a Rocket Tie Me to It,” bassist Paul Wilson experienced some problems with his amp set-up. Singer Gary Lightbody apologized to the audience, and promised that once the stage hands resolved the issues, the band would pick things up “as if that never happened.”

After five minutes, the group returned and started into the song “Chocolate.” By that song’s end, it did seem as if the initial gaffe never happened. The rest of the performance erased any concerns over Snow Patrol’s ability to deliver the goods.

Snow Patrol specializes in hymn-like melodies set to driving rock dynamics. Its songs build up to surging choruses before dropping into more hushed passages. Augmented by a percussionist and an occasional third guitarist, the quintet - Lightbody, Wilson, guitarist Nathan Connolly, drummer Jonny Quinn and keyboardist Tom Wilson - maintained this balance of the anthemic and the intimate perfectly throughout its show.

The set list included plenty of songs that made people raise their hands and cheer and yell. Yet in song after song, I could look around and see rapt wonder on many faces in the crowd. They stared at the stage as if they were in a small room, with the band playing just to them.

The only thing that could jar such a mood was a reminder of the day’s headlines. Lightbody dedicated the song “Run” to Barack Obama, calling it “a great day for America” that the President had won the Nobel Peace Prize. This drew a mixed response from the Denver crowd. Once the singer started into the song, though, any stirred-up rancor was forgotten quickly.

Like most singers who come to Colorado on tour, Lightbody had some difficulty performing at this altitude. His voice began to lose some of its strength on the high notes. Apparently, he decided his voice needed a break mid-set, letting the audience handle a lot of the singing on “Shut Your Eyes.” “One of these days,” he told the crowd afterward, “you’re all going to have to come over to my house, and I’ll sing for you there.”

Apparently, spending the summer as a warm-up act for such heavy hitters as Coldplay and U2 hasn’t affected Snow Patrol’s onstage presentation. The group kept its stage relatively simple. The lighting and the full-length video screen behind the band were fairly standard stage equipment for a venue the size of the Fillmore.

The group started winding down its set with “the world concert premiere” of the upcoming single “Just Say Yes.” The song seems to have been circulating online: I heard quite a few voices around me singing along. After that new song, the band finished its main set with “Take Back This City” and “Open Your Eyes.”

A minute later, text began scrolling on the projection screen, receding back as it scrolled, “Star Wars” style. The text announced the first encore: “The Lightning Strike,” the three-part song that closes Snow Patrol’s most recent album, “A Hundred Million Suns.” The band played this 17-minute piece in front of a video that presented the whole history of the universe - from galaxies forming to life beginning on Earth, right up to the Snow Patrol concert itself - with animated folded-paper figures. Following that, the band played the more compact rocker “You’re All I Have.” to close the show.

Contrary to their band name, opening act Plain White T’s dressed for the occasion in white dress shirts and ties (except for guitarist Dave Tirio, who wore a leather jacket onstage). The Chicago quintet’s crowd-pleasing set was full of tight pop-oriented ensemble playing and four-part vocal harmonies. The 40-minute set included one brand-new song, “Boomerang,” that sounds destined for inclusion on a future movie soundtrack.