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Music to my ears

June 23, 2008

Without a doubt, this year and to some extent last year have been the perfect storm of concerts for me.  Last year was all about the Police (note, there is no need to count “American Idols Live!” or Hannah Montana in the storm) where this year there has been a bit more variety.  Last week I faced an embarassment of riches having tickets to see both R.E.M. and The Cure.

I first saw R.E.M. when I was in high school, and they played Shea Stadium as an opening act for the Police in 1983.  They were young and fun, and I really enjoyed them.  We knew they would be the next big thing, but couldn’t have predicted they would be as big as they are, or that they’d still be going strong in 2008, albeit with a slightly altered band structure.   If you know anything about the lineup at Shea that day, R.E.M. went on first, followed by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, then the Police.  Funny to think that 25 years (!) later, R.E.M. would be headlining a group of 3 bands, and I’d be as excited to see the first two as I would be the headliner.  The National is not quite a best-kept-sercet, but they’re pretty good.  I was over the top about Modest Mouse because Johnny Marr of the Smiths plays guitar for them now, and anything that takes me that much closer to the Smiths is great for me.  Their set was great, as I’ve got their albums on my iPod and really like their sound.  R.E.M. was pretty good too, but they have such a wide and diverse song catalog that it’s hard to play absolutely everything that’s worth playing and have a show that comes in at less than 6 hours.  Of course, they mix up their set list (hear that Sting, it IS possible!) so if you see more than one show, you might get lucky and hear the new stuff you were looking for. 

The crowd was interesting, and defined, if you will, by the phrase “toe hair in Tevas.”  There were also your usual guys in suits just getting off work, and drunk chicks dancing to songs you shouldn’t dance to.  Many in the crowd were restless listening to Michael Stipe go on and on about his hatred of President Bush, to the point where many screamed for him to “shut up and sing.”  I can’t say I agreed or disagreed with him, but the tirades were tiresome at least to my ears (am I getting old or what?)  I did wonder how he could go on and on, and Natalie Manes says one sentence about the President and just about sinks her whole band.  Sexist, living in different times, not sure what it was, but there you go.  Of course, it’s Michael Stipe’s branding, it’s what he does, and to not expect him to speak his mind is foolish. 

The next night, I headed back to MSG to see the Cure.  As soon as I saw a guy with messy black hair, white face and black drippy eyeliner, I felt at home.  Among my people, as it were.  I’m much more “goth lite” than I am “toe hair”.  The band was great, played a lot of new stuff as well as the old favorites, including, yes, Charlotte Sometimes.  Again, not the same set list show after show!  Gotta love that.  I do have to advise anyone going to see the Cure that dancing to their music should not be attempted unless you are truly a professional.  Simon Gallup, the bassist, can’t even keep the beat with his feet, what makes us think we can?  We saw quite a few displays of fancy footwork that would make your hair stand on end.  They’re mopey, for the most part, and mope does not equal fine dance music. 

If they come to your town, I wouldn’t hesistate to recommend them for a night out.  Of course, there’s always next year in NY!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2008 1:40 pm

    After reading this I went to google and found the date of my first REM show – September 10, 1989, Civic Arena in Pittsburgh. We were in the 2nd row and I remember that Mike Mills touched my hand. I thought he was the cutest, by far. Thanks for helping me remember this!

  2. June 23, 2008 2:04 pm

    hmmmm… wonder if the Cure will be in so California any time soon… **rushes off to Google to find out**

  3. June 29, 2008 9:43 pm

    Sounds like a great couple of nights! I’m very jealous.

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