Levon Helm dead at age 71

19 04 2012

The so-called “backbone of The Band” has lost his battle with throat cancer. He was a great talent and lived an extraordinary life.

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The Eternal Teenager

19 04 2012

I’ll remember Dick Clark fondly for a few things:
° American Bandstand – I wasted (mostly in a positive way) lots of Saturday afternoons in the late 70s-early 80s watching the stars of the day lip sync. It was a cool show.
° $100,000 Pyramid – I loved that show and thought myself so clever that I could guess the answers without looking at the bottom of the screen.
° New Years Rockin’ Eve – It was one of my highlights as a kid when I could convince my grandma to turn off Guy Lombardo for a few minutes so I could get a bit of my generation’s music.
° Dick always seemed really likeable. If he didn’t love what he was doing, he sure hid it well.

I don’t want to remember Dick post stroke. He might have let it go on a tad long. But he was great in his prime and will be missed.





“High Flying Birds is the best album…” “Ever.”

1 04 2012

He finished the sentence for me.  I think he might believe it, too.

I fancy myself as someone that’s not much of a celebrity chaser, but after last night’s Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds show at the Royal Oak Music Theater — more on the concert in a moment — my friends and I saw an opportunity maybe catch Mr. Gallagher after the show.  We walked through a parking lot toward the band’s buses and gear truck.  A supposed “security guard” told us we had to turn around but one of my quick-thinking friends said, “We’re with the band.”  Either he’s not too smart or he didn’t really mean to stop us, but he we walked on past and took a spot near the tour bus.

The roadies carted the gear out of the back of the theater, onto a truck in front of the first tour bus.  The lead singer of the opening band, Mona, a guy who looks like Joe Strummer with skinny jeans and a very gynic man purse, mulled around, smoking, talking, seemingly hoping to get the attention of autograph seekers.  No one seemed to interested.  But the crowd around the bus built to about 80 or so.

Horrible drunk male voices belted out in unison the chorus to “Don’t Look Back In Anger.”  A friend chided a younger fan for his “Justin Bieber hair.”  (We rebuked our buddy and told him the kid had a Beatles cut, a good thing, not a bad one.)  Why Oasis and Noel Gallagher fans do this I’ll never quite understand, but there were a couple of people around wearing Manchester United gear and there was a shout or two of “Glory, glory Man United!” to be heard.  Heads up: Noel hates Man United.  He’s a City fan.  But I digress…

One friend, who had more than his share of beer, needed a bathroom and talked his way past security, into the building somewhere.  Out of our group of 4, this friend is probably the biggest Oasis fan, but he was the least confident we’d see Noel before he got on the bus.  When he got into the building, he searched where he could and came out near where the roadies were working, convinced more than ever that Mr. Gallagher had already been whisked away by a limo.  “Do you guys want to go?”  I said, “I’ll do whatever you guys want, but you might want to stick around a bit.”  A bit more discussion was had about whether to stay or go and I told this friend, “We can go if you like, but the minute we leave, Noel’s going to come out and you’re going to regret that we left.”  Not 30 seconds later did Noel walk out of the building and approach us.

An odd older guy was one of the first to get to Noel.  In one of the most bizarre forms of admiration I’ve seen, he had a big, dumb grin on his face and gently touched Noel’s chest.  “I touched him!”  Mind you, this guy is in his 50’s at least.  But he wasn’t finished.  His next move was to caress Noel’s cheek.  When Noel didn’t jump back or yell at him — probably a smart move on Noel’s part — the guy leaned forward, gently grabbed Noel by the back of the hair and pulled him in for a kiss on the forehead.  My reaction was to yell, “Fella, that’s messed !  What’s wrong with you?”  I was afraid that this guy was going to run Noel off at any second.  A friend chimed in with a “What the ****, dude!”  The creepy guy just drifted off with a huge grin on his face, nearly in tears saying something like “I just couldn’t help it.  I got to touch him!” You’d think it was Jesus he’d seen.

Despite being somewhat repulsed by that man’s need to touch Noel, and obvious lack of shame about the whole thing, in an instant I knew that I had to say hello and get a handshake myself.  I just knew that somehow failing to get a handshake or an autograph would be a source of disappointment later.  I stepped forward, thrust out my hand and said, “Noel, can I shake your hand!” He put out his small, cold hand and gave me a medium-grip shake.  Immediately he turned to an autograph seeker and all I could think to say was, “High Flying Birds is the best album…”  Then I got tongue tied.  Noel finished the sentence for me. “Ever!”  I gathered some wits and said, “It’s one of the best albums you’ve ever made!” meaning to include Oasis greats like Definitely Maybe.

Then I felt dumb.  I knew that a bit of foolishness and nervousness had come over me.  But I was glad to have gotten the shake anyway.

Our friend that was so convinced we wouldn’t see Noel saw his opportunity and got to our kid.  He asked Noel to sign his Man City shirt to which Noel answered, “Fuckin’ hell!”     The friend offered the bottom of his shirt, but Noel said something like “hell no,” leaned forward and signed the shirt on his chest.  A second friend, an old high school buddy of mine, went from something of a passive observer to a fan that wanted to meet Noel himself.  This friend wormed his way up to Noel, got a handshake and backed out of the throng.  The fourth among us started recording some of the scene.

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The show was great, which wasn’t surprising to me in the least.  Unlike his petulant little brother, Noel is always in top form.  He’s a true professional.  His band was tight and played everything with precision and passion.  Noel sounded great.  His voice has held up well on the road.  Considering that most of his career he’s only been the front man on occasion, he has developed — or maybe was born with — strong pipes.

One big problem — the only problem — was that the volume was too loud for the venue.  I’m not griping about volume.  But the venue really couldn’t handle that much sound.    We had seats up in the balcony and when we were up there, things were a bit crackly.

Before taking our seats upstairs, 3 of the 4 of us headed down to the front, right stage, just beyond the barricade.  We had the short term fun of seeing the action up close and feeling it.  Damn, did we feel it! We were planted just feet from bass stack.  My hair and pants were vibrating.  In good light, you could see my hair move.  I felt like I was taking a very mild beating.  Five songs down front did the trick.  The crowd also filled in around us, moving us a little bit out of the sight lines we had, so we figured we’d go enjoy our seats next to the bar.

I tried my best to keep track of the set list as it went, but doing work is no way to enjoy a concert.  Everything, as I said, sounded great! Noel had a nice mix of current stuff, which to me is better than the vast majority of his Oasis work, a few of the Oasis hits and a nice bunch of Oasis b-sides.  Here’s the set list (probably not in exact order) as best as I can remember:

  • Good to be Free
  • Mucky Fingers
  • Dream On
  • If I Had a Gun
  • The Good Rebel
  • Freaky Teeth (a new song)
  • The Death of You and Me
  • Supersonic
  • (I Wanna Live in a Dream in My) Record Machine
  • AKA…What a Life
  • Talk Tonight
  • Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks
  • AKA…Broken Arrow
  • Half The World Away
  • (Stranded On) The Wrong Beach
  • Whatever
  • Little By Little
  • The Importance of Being Idle
  • Don’t Look Back in Anger

NOTE:  I recognize that this rather personal account of our evening might not be for mass consumption.  If you stumble on this blog and want to read about the show, you might find this light on concert facts and heavy on personal stuff.  I have intentionally written this as something of a diary of a great night shared with friends as I have for strangers who may read this.  Whoever reads this, I hope you enjoy it! Cheers