Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ah, at last I figure out how to get a title

Yeah. I'm dim. It's been that kind of week.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Eric Clapton/Robert Cray show

We saw Eric Clapton at the newly renamed Scottrade Center Monday, Sept. 18.

Set list
I Shot The Sheriff
Got To Get Better In A Little While
Old Love (with Robert Cray)
Everybody Oughta Make A Change
Motherless Children

(sit down set)
Back Home
I Am Yours
Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
Running On Faith

After Midnight (fast version)
Little Queen Of Spades
Further On Up The Road
Wonderful Tonight

Crossroads (with Robert Cray)

Some Links
Here are some reviews of the show, more like fan comments really.

Opener Robert Cray:
Robert Cray dot com.
Robert Cray in wikipedia

Eric Clapton dot com
Eric Clapton in wikipedia
Where's Eric? tour site

Eric's guitarists this tour:
Doyle Bramhall II
Doyle 2nd dot com (his official site)
Not to be confused with his father, drummer Doyle Bramhall
Doyle II in wikipedia

Derek Trucks
Derek Trucks dot com
Derek Trucks in wikipedia

I encourage you to have a visit to Derek's site in particular.

As you might know, Doyle is left-handed and plays lefty-strung-righty, which means that he just flips a right-handed guitar over instead of restringing it. So instead of playing a mirror image, he's playing upside down. It's disorienting to watch, because you know that you go here for higher notes, but Doyle goes there instead.

Derek Trucks, meanwhile, is pretty much the second coming as far as I'm concerned. He's a better guitarist than anyone else who was in the house, and that includes Clapton. While Doyle uses a huge pedal board, Derek plugs straight into the amp and basically plays with his brain. He doesn't use a pick, either. He's a savant. He ... he plays straight into you. You don't know with your brain that he's a great guitarist, you know it in the part of your spirit that's why you love music to start with. Get a video, find footage of him. Seriously.

(If you also know that he's the nephew of Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks and basically replaces Duane Allman, and if you know that Duane Allman played with Clapton for the Derek and the Dominos session, well it's getting to be a pretty small world out there.)

We were in the 19th row on the floor, which could've been worse. But boy, does it look further away from the pictures I took. I also shot just a little video on the down low, and I’ve uploaded the three-minute, 61,400k “Wonderful Tonight” (all but the first verse – sorry) (posted at the end of this post). Photobucket would NOT let me load the other video, which is the entirety of "Crossroads," at 6:42, 143,000k.

Okay. Robert Cray was awesome. He really has his own very distinctive tone, so buttery and sweet and yet bluesy. Delicious. He did at least "Phone Booth," "Poor Johnny," "I'm Walkin'," and "Twenty," and a couple more for a 35-minute set. "Twenty" in particular is not only a great song but was a very heartfelt rendition. He introduced it as a song about a young man who joined the military after 9/11 to try to avenge some of the acts of 9/11 but instead was sent to Iraq. heh. Well put, Bob.

Not too close.

A bit closer.

Closer still.

Okay. Eric. Eric's set was great; he never seemed like a geezer up there, and his playing was as ever. Derek's playing was a beautiful partner to Eric's, especially as in "Layla" when he played this lovely womanly slide part on top of Eric's part.

"Pretending" was a great opener. "I Shot the Sheriff" was fun and the two female backup singers were nice and, I don't know, kind of howley like Bob Marley's singers could be. "Motherless Children" was another standout. They broke down for a semi-acoustic sit-down set in the middle, in which "Running on Faith" was one of the kickers and Derek particularly stood out again. It's not that Doyle wasn't good, but he was a little ... withdrawn, maybe? He took his solos, but he never really seemed to bust out, he was a little quieter, and he turned his back to the audience quite a bit. Maybe a bad night?

Then a ripping "After Midnight" - everyone was boogeying! - a very nice Little Queen of Spades, electrified, not the acoustic version. I've always had a kind of soft spot for "Wonderful Tonight," even though it's kind of sappy. And closing the set with "Layla" - oh, beautiful! - and straight into "Cocaine" was just *flails wordlessly*. The break before the encore was a little long, and then the encore consisted solely of "Crossroads" with Robert Cray back out with the band.

Here are some pictures. Either my camera's just not good with the crazy lighting or else I don't know how to set it to compensate for the crazy concert lighting. I'm shooting without flash, which would be silly, but J thinks maybe the lens has to stay open too long or the lights just overwhelm the camera or something. Anyway.

Doyle, Derek, Eric

With Robert Cray

Can you see the big projection of Clapton's head on the backdrop?

And the “Wonderful Tonight” clip.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Bono and Larry get haircuts

Stolen from various places on the web. Bono’s new haircut looks pretty good.

Bono’s not the only one who got a haircut, though.

Historical record: Here’s what Bono looked like a year ago this week outside the United Center.

And here’s Larry a year ago this week.

It seems like so long ago, the U2 concerts in Chicago last year, but I remember it so vividly, too. Getting up before dawn to get to the United Center by 6 or 7 a.m., the sitting, the walking, the waiting, the cold, the hot, the thirst, the hunger, the uncleanliness, the thirst, the waiting, the exhaustion, the chills! The thrills!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Bob Dylan - New Yorker article

I was behind in my magazine reading, so I hadn't seen the thing in the last New Yorker about a collection of interviews with Bob Dylan coming out in book form.

The author (of the article) says that Dylan is, at least, a better interview than Elvis, because Elvis really just didn't have anything to say. But the thing about Dylan is, he lies. He lies like a dog. He also doesn't brook fools. But, of course, the other thing is that interviews used to be so much worse for musicians because the interviewers were a thousand years old and the music was new. I mean, you've seen the footage of interviews with the Beatles and Stones and Bob and everyone back then. Nobody in the media knew what to do.

(We saw a very funny example of this recently - a retrospective on drugs and pop culture and music, in which an interviewer asked Lou Reed whether, given that he made so many drug references in his songs, he himself used drugs. Perfectly straight, perfectly sincere, Lou replied that he was high on life, thank you very much. J and I nearly peed our pants laughing. It was nice not to hate Lou Reed for a minute.)

But back to the Dylan piece.

In one excerpt, from 1978, Bob talks about the "wild mercury" sound from Blonde on Blonde and before Highway 61, the Byrds and Beatles and "That ethereal twilight light, you know. It's the sound of the street with the sunrays, the sun shining down at a particular time, on a particular type of building. A particular type of people walking on a particular type of street. It's an outdoor sound that drifts even into open windows that you can hear. The sound of bells and distant railroad trains and arguments in apartment buildings and the clinking of silverware and knives and forks and beating with leather straps. ... All pretty natural sounds. It's water, you know water trickling down a brook. It's light flowing through the -"

Interviewer: "Late-afternoon light?"

Bob: "No, it's usually the crack of dawn. Music filters out to me in the crack of dawn."

And, at the end of the article, the author won my heart unreservedly:
"Dylan is also, despite the silly things people said about his voice when he started out, one of pop music's greatest vocalists. His chief weakness is a tendency to shout, particularly in performance (and he is, let us say, an inconsistent performer); but, when he is in control of the instrument, no one's voice, with that kind of music, is more textured or more beautiful. Ninety percent of musicianship is phrasing, and the easiest way to appreciate Dylan's genius for phrasing is to listen to him, on bootlegs or on the late albums of traditional songs, perform songs that he didn't write - "Folsom Prison Blues," or "People Get Ready," or "Froggie Went A-Courtin." He gets it all. When my children were little, we used to have a cassette around the house of songs for kids by pop stars, on which Dylan did "This Old Man" ("With a knick-knack paddywhack, give the dog a bone"). That performance had the weight of the whole world in it. I listened to it a hundred times and never got tired of it. You can refute Hegel, Yeats said, but not the Song of Sixpence."


Monday, September 04, 2006

Nature walk, wildlife pictures

Sunday we spent a wonderful morning at Lincoln Memorial Garden.

We saw and heard a number of the usual seagulls and woodpeckers that are too small or too far away to identify, your Canada goose, your probably-mallard ducks, and a little guy I remembered to look up when we got home - the white-breasted nuthatch, a cute little fellow. I showed J the picture in the book, and he confirmed. I noticed the markings on the head particularly; I think we saw a male. Then we were walking alongside the water and happened to come to an open space in the trees and look up just as a heron went by, not all that far away. They're so magnificent.

We saw spiderwebs aplenty, and walked through plenty of them too - ugh:

It was an absolutely beautiful day.

Guess it's a moth.

So bright!

The trails branch off a lot, and we were walking along when we both happened to glance to the left down a fork we were passing, and froze:

The trails made a kind of triangle; we were at one end, the deer was at another, and there were other people at the third point for a while, watching the deer too. We saw several of them, but not really grouped together for pictures. They totally knew we were there, but we were quiet and kept still, so they didn't worry too much.

We walked on, and they crossed the trail in front of us after awhile. From time to time after that we could see them through the trees, but eventually we parted ways, feeling very lucky. Deer here, while common, are fairly skittish. For a hundred-pound animal, I was struck, as always, by their slim legs and tiny little hooves, their nimble grace, and their quietness in the woods.