Friday, November 2, 2012


On Monday morning I took Amtrak to San Diego from Union Station. Wanting to travel light, I ditching most of my stuff in the Stillwell Hotel in LA. In about two hours time I was standing in the downtown area of San Diego a very short distance from the water front. First stop was to their Museum of Contemporary Art. Best of all was Isaac Julien’s movie exhibit “Ten Thousand Waves,” an intriguing video project on nine screens throughout the room making for an experience in which I felt I was standing in the middle of the action occurring in this 50 minute long show that continuously looped.

“Julian weaves this folk tale together with the Morecambe tragedy to create a spectacular visual poem displayed across nine enormous screens. Images of modern Shanghai intercut with 1930s film noir shots of the city; images of the remote Fujian landscape, shrouded in clouds just like ancient Chinese scroll painting; scenes of Mazu floating over the hypnotic, rolling sea, looking for the sailors; and in the background a poem especially commissioned for the film is recited in Chinese.”

The film’s original musical score is by fellow east Londoner Jah Wobble and the Chinese Dub Orchestra and Maria de Alvear. As we all know Jah Wobble was the original bass player in PiL in the late 1970s and early 1980s. What a nice coincidence!

I spent considerable time at the end of the nearby wharf that stuck out into the bay, smoking a cigar and watching the bustling harbor. Several aircraft carriers parked nearby. Helicopters and jet aircraft buzzing the sky. Jets continually taking off at the nearby airport. It was an impressive sight but caused an uncomfortable feeling within me, like I was sitting inside this unstoppable monster-like military machine that was destined to serve only one bloody purpose, regardless of the people's will.

I had dinner at a restaurant not too far from the House of Blues. Once again I was at the foot of the stage in the theater shortly after 7 PM. A local punk band, Retox, warmed up the audience with a half hour of loud and fast songs, one blurring into the other.

PiL took the stage sometime after 9:30, returning me to that sweet spot in my mind as I tried to absorb every bit of the music and resulting experience. San Diego was the better of the two shows for me, perhaps because of my location (on the barricade) and choosing to limit the use of the camera in order to just experience the show. There were two events during the show I will always remember. The first was in between songs when I yelled out "You are a legend!," to which John stood there thoughtfully for a moment and then replied with something like, "I am humbled into silence," before heading off into the next song. Even better...throughout both shows between songs Johnny would take a swig of water and swallow, followed by a swig out of a bottle of liquor (Courvoisier?) that he would then spit out into a bucket in front of the drum kit. Well, I remembered what he always scolded the audience for in shows during the 80's and shouted out "No gobbing!" as he spat out the drink. What he did next was press his finger on his left nostril, tilted his head and then blew out the contents of his right nostril into the bucket/onto the floor to the audiences pleasure, followed by "All these years and you're still f*cking shy of me." I think he recognized me from the show the night before. I got the distinct impression he was turning a lot in my direction with direct eye contact, like he was performing especially for me. That too made this show a very personal experience.

A group of people hung out at the stage exit door watching the road crew load equipment on the trailer, hoping to meet the band as they made their exit. But alas, the band departed from another door on the other side of the building, leaving us to watch the road crew board the bus and head off to their next destination in Arizona. People express disappointment and then disappear into the fog enveloping the city. I grab a bite to eat and then head on down to the train station in anticipation of catching a 6 AM ride, only to learn that the station is locked up, probably to prevent the many homeless from turning it into their overnight home. I “slept” on a bench at the station, wrapped in a plastic trash bag to warm me from the cool, damp air coming in off the bay. I eventually board the train and return to LA where I catch my flight back to Denver. So many miles traveled in such a short amount of time. I was exhausted that evening and slept well.

Retox opened up the show for PiL:

"I realized that there were no other opening acts listed so I figured I would see if we [Retox] could get on the bill as an opener. Our agent got a hold of the promoter and they said we could play but they could not pay us since PiL's guarantee was fairly large and would not be met," says vocalist of Retox, Justin Pearson, in our chat after the gig. The deal was, Retox could have as many guests as they wanted. "Now that probably means something different to most people. But we had no problem at all getting our list up to triple digits. And, well, they [House of Blues] were a bit bummed. But we were not getting paid and it was in writing, so they honored it."

Read it here:

Asphalt, power lines
Highway, rooftops, spewing stacks
Human cancer spreads

Sparkling blue ocean
Gentle waves break and rush forward
Caress the sandy shore

Wide as the ocean
Life of unfulfilled desires
Drifts from shore to shore

Led to the ocean
Find not the journeys promise
But waves of sorrow

Our humanity
No longer understand it
Think like a machine

Rows of powerlines
Like giant robots in the sky
Long armed monsters march

Download the mp3 show here:!download|831p10|1648740902|MP3%20San%20Diego%20October%2029_%202012%20320%20kbps.rar|283004|0|0

Download the flac show here, parts 1 and 2:!download|301p3|1612065758|FLAC%20Part%201%20San%20Diego_%20CA%20October%2029_%202012.rar|396384|0|0!download|772p6|1435569044|FLAC%20Part%202%20San%20Diego_%20CA%20October%2029_%202012%202.rar|363212|0|0

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the two great posts, regarding the PIL shows you attended in La and San Diego.. great write up, love the stuff before and after the gigs. thanks for the photos, ticket scans, and for posting the shows themselves. you rock :)