Monday, March 07, 2005

pros and cons of live performances

We saw Pat Metheny at the Chandler Center for the Arts last night, and, as always, it was a great show.

That said -- let me get this out of the way -- if I could nominate both Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays for What Not To Wear, I would. Maybe I should? These guys are such phenomenal musicians but they're wearing the same clothes and hairstyles that they did 20 years ago. Pat, the horizontal-striped boatneck t-shirt is just not doin' it for you, man. And Lyle? The scary hair has got to go -- come to think of it, same goes for Pat.

Moving on from the completely shallow to the marginally relevant, I had a lovely surprise when we got to the concert. My best friend T and her husband had the seats right next to ours! Total shocker -- each of us had no idea the other was going. Things have been rather hectic lately. So that was an unexpected bonus.

I also figured out that I could use my (tiny) purse for a lumbar pillow, and therefore could sit through the two-and-one-half-hour concert with only minor back pain. We did get up to applaud after nearly every piece, but given that the first two pieces totalled nearly an hour, that was still a lot of sitting.

I felt prescient when, after those two monumental pieces, Pat said, "Normally at this point, I'd say 'those were some pieces from our new album,' but that actually was our new album - The Way Up - the whole thing. Thanks for still being here!"

Interestingly enough, there is a review on Amazon from someone who attended this same concert, and his take is pretty much the same as mine. The show was phenomenal, but I'm not sure that The Way Up is an album I would put on at home. It requires some effort, as it is really one (very) long piece, much more like a classical symphony or other longer work. There are tons of changes in tone, tempo, and key, numerous solos, and all sorts of stuff going on. I will admit that I was lost from time to time but found the overall effect pleasant. Sometimes I don't have the mental capacity to adequately process jazz or fusion. Honestly, I would have to hear this again before I could make any judgements about it, because I was easily distracted last night, and The Way Up requires attention.

That said, I had no trouble at all with the rest of the concert, because nearly all of the music was familiar to me, and the musicians were all stellar. I must mention the hardest-working roadie I have ever seen, too. This woman had so many guitar changes that I lost track very early in the evening. Pat must have played at least 8 different guitars, and at one point the way he was strumming the stuffing out of one of them, you know that as soon as he gave it up it would have to go back stage for retuning before he could pick it up again. I loved the times when he would sling one guitar down and across his back so he could play another that was set on a perfectly angled stand for him.

Images like that are one reason I adore live performances, even though they are expensive and too loud and we have to get a baby sitter and my back is killing me by the end of the night. You just cannot re-create that experience at home, even with a concert DVD and a kickin' sound system. It's just not the same.

I have always loved the energy that flows between the band and the audience in a giant feedback loop. I always leave a good concert simultaneously hyper and exhausted, full of new ideas and energy, but depleted by giving so much of myself over in my enthusiastic applause, whoops, and whistles.

No whoops for me last night, though -- my throat is sore all the time now, and my voice isn't strong enough. So I contented myself with the occasional whistle (also difficult, because of the odd saliva situation now), and lots of clapping.

I know a lot of people wouldn't bother, they'd say, "You can buy the album for less than half of what you paid for that ticket!" I say -- it's not just the music, it's the experience, and the experience is worth the price.

1 comment:

Sheik Yerbootie said...

Pat is a freakin' genius and I could care less about what he is wearing.

By the by, have you ever been to a Blue Man Group concert?

You REALLY need to go sometime.