Vriendin Pamela Murray Winters was gisteravond in Apollo theater te New York (Harlem).
Stuurde de volgende recensie, waaruit blijkt dat het ook zonder Jan Douwe Kroeske kan, een muziekprogramma op tv.
Was last night a dream?
And then I woke up on a dark train with no shoes, an aching head, and a sore throat.
Oh, but that’s not the interesting part. Let me back up about 16 hours.
After a train, a subway, and a somewhat frantic two-block walk, I found myself in front of Harlem’s famed Apollo Theatre. Dear Jesse was already there, holding a spot in line. (Sorry; the New York usage is “on line.”)
Checking my paperwork, I discovered that I was holding an e-ticket from the promoters AND a letter that said I had tickets at Will Call.
Assuming that the latter process would get me better seats, I checked in with Will Call. Several hours and machinations later, Jesse and I found ourselves inside… in the back right-hand corner of the theater.
The ticket dispersal seemed somewhat random. Now, the tickets were free, and I was not ungrateful, but…well, you folks might have heard me say I’d shove a Make a Wish kid aside to get up front. It’s the only area of my life in which I’m this assertive, possibly even aggressive, person.
Negotiations didn’t work, but at some point, after they’d closed the doors, people started moving (or being moved) toward the front center section. Tenacity and luck got us toward the back of that smallish section. (I was delighted to see another friend, at the very last second, moved into the second row–two seats from one labeled “Richard Thompson”! But I’ll let him tell his own stories.)
Elvis Costello is a relaxed and gracious host. As an interviewer, he’s no Christiane Amanpour, but neither should he be. He’s an enthusiast, or comes across as one. He told us that he’d be “building a band onstage” that night. After an energetic version of…oh, gee, I can’t remember, one of his very old songs, backed by the Impostors and Larry Campbell, he went into a sort of rap about the night’s performers which included a reference to Our Man as “Tommy Gun.” (I think. The whole thing, the more I think about it, seems like a strange and wonderful dream.)
Throughout the taping, there were pauses for technical stuff and consultations about what was to happen next, but I’ve been to conventional concerts that were more poorly paced. I guess we were there about 2 and a half hours.
Anyway, he introduced Richard, who gave us a killer version of “Shoot Out the Lights”–electric, with Elvis’ band. Then there was an onstage chat between Elvis and Richard. Elvis talked a lot about Richard’s music and its folk roots, although some of what he said blurred the lines between the genuine traditional music that Fairport and Richard have explored and songs of Richard’s own, such as “End of the Rainbow.” Then Elvis asked whether he could do one of Richard’s songs.
He played and sang “How I Wanted To,” with Richard on guitar and the band backing.
Elvis is one of those guys who throws himself into this stuff like Marcel Marceau in a real windstorm. His version was just this side of overwrought. I loved it. He had said that he saw it as the sort of song a classic soul singer might do, or something like that.
Speaking of kinetic enthusiasm: Our poached seats were in back of a pair of seemingly very intoxicated gentlemen who left at various times, stood to yell a lot, and carried on mercifully brief snatches of conversation during the set. I wonder what it would have taken for them to be thrown out. The less obnoxious of the two had an odd habit of applauding by slapping the top of his bald head. The other one talked very much like Father Jack, even saying, “Oh, feck off” once to something.
Next out was…wow, I’m surprised to find that I can’t remember whether it was Toussaint or Lowe. Let’s say it was Toussaint. Elvis had him playing all sorts of piano snippets and telling old stories.
He and Elvis did a song adapted from “Tipitina”; I can’t quite remember the name (it might have had “Ascension” in it). There might have been more. It’s getting blurry.
Nick Lowe looked surprisingly old. I made a mental note to check which was the youngest of Elvis’ four main guests; I think it might have been RT.
What I remember most about Nick’s performance was that song called “The Beast” and the story he told about writing it for Johnny Cash (then his father-in-law) over the course of a drunken night in which “I became Johnny Cash”–and then being forced to sing it in front of the man himself.
Richard wasn’t too involved in either of these performers’ featured bits; he sat over by Levon’s drum kit, generally in the dark.
Elvis explained to us that Levon had severe vocal strain and couldn’t sing–in fact, he could barely talk. He told us a bit about how he was going to do most of the talking and let Levon’s drums talk as well. He said something about not wanting to be lots of “drama” when Levon came out.
Levon, looking radiant in that way those who have been very ill, or are very ill, or are very old can look, was received with great effusiveness. Elvis wandered around a good bit nattering about the connections among all his guests–he had Richard talking a bit about the Band’s connections with Fairport, for example.
They performed “Rag Mama Rag.” I think that was at this point, and I hope someone will correct me if I’m wrong. They also did “Tennessee Jed,” a song I’d heard on the radio earlier that day and thought, “I hope Levon does that one!”
I’m sure I’m missing songs and anecdotes. What sticks with me the most is “The Weight.” A young bearded guy, who sounded very Band-y, came out to sing the first verse; the others rotated through the verses.
(RT got the one with Jack the dog.) I think the audience, or a good bit of it, was singing along. What a great rendition–the energy of this band, with all of these guys onstage, was amazing, and they seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves. The venue seemed intimate for such starpower and energy.
After the song, Elvis told us that the young guy was Ray Lamontagne.
He had originally been announced as being part of this program, but he ended up being assigned to the previous night’s taping. But he had told Elvis that he really wanted to sing on this number, so he came back just for it.
Lamontagne’s another one of those scary-intense guys. I’d heard that he wasn’t much of an interview subject the night before; he’s always come off to me as terribly shy and perhaps Nick Drakelike in his sensitivity about his music. He definitely threw himself into the song. The others did as well, but I noticed that the four main guests share a sort of deeply calm demeanor that’s very appealing; the music seems to come up from within rather than their reaching for the music.
Anyway, they did “The Weight” again–I think so that Elvis could give Ray a proper introduction. And then, I think it was over. I remember lots and lots of clapping as we hoped for an encore. I remember the Band’s recording of “Long Black Veil” coming on as we walked out, and some of us singing along to it. I remember assembling with friends in the lobby. I remember wandering all over the subway system, eating a sandwich and a slice of cheesecake each the size of a Doberman’s head as Jesse and Moshe talked about extremely intellectual topics. I remember sort of limping to the train. I remember yogi-like contortions on a narrow train seat hurtling through darkness.
And now here I am, and I keep feeling like something wonderful may have happened last night and was yet somehow unreal. I have to get back to reading about Epstein-Barr virus now, even as that part of me I’ve come to know so well remains ready at the drop of a ticket to run off somewhere for some other waltz that I hope is not the last.