Thursday, July 30, 2009
Dead Weather vs CR Avery
The Motown/Steeltown Showdown
2009-07-24 & 2009-07-29
Jack White in Detroit...something so right. Unfortunately the Tigers were playing a double-header at Comerica Park, across the street from The Fillmore, so we had to get in town early to find a parking spot.
Turned out it was no problem at all as we found a spot near a bar and the venue. We're accompanied tonight by two friends who we've shared many a Dylan show with. They cross-over too.
We catch a break at the door when we line up with the early entry Vault winners. A very kind usher, realizing we belong in the back of the long line that wraps the venue, also notes that it's a bit of a challenge for one of our party to be out and about at a rock concert and instructs us to just sit still and he'd get us in after the VIP's. I've been to the State, now the Fillmore, before. Each visit I'm amazed at the courteous service we get from the staff. It's a fan-friendly environment.
Dead Weather's set is the same. Only better. Every night they're getting tighter. Alison is exploding. She's found the sweet spot in most of her solo songs. Because the band has more confidence, Jack is stepping out a bit. We got a little impromptu talk from him this evening. While it made little sense, it was fun to hear: "Saw two guys in a park today. One of them said "Don't look at me bitch"... fifteen feet away the other guy said "Can you, yeah, but can you spell 'bitch'? My God!" He said "My God.... can you spell 'bitch'? The other guy said 'I AM GOD!'. "
Another 64 minutes. Tonight's top ticket price was $52.00 + fees.
The show can be broken down into three distinct segments: Her songs, His songs, Their songs.
60 ft Tall: Great opener, she throws down the gauntlet from the outset. Each show she tries to find a spot high on the monitors to deliver the first refrain.
Bone House: Not only can she take it, she can dish it as well. Stalker-rock from the distaff side.
Hang You From the Heavens: Maybe her best song. Must be seen to be properly experienced.
So Far From Your Weapon: Takes a little longer to build momentum and never explodes in the same manner as the other songs but it's a nice moody breather in mid-set.
No Hassle Night: This one's not working for me yet.
Forever My Queen: This is starting to grow on me but still not as accessible as her strong songs.
Treat Me Like Your Mother: Another wonderful stage performance, improving every night.
New Pony: She just slays this Dylan tune. Wish they'd add the extra verse and fill out some of those lines instead of truncating them but I do dig the refrain.
You Just Can't Win: The fans aren't quite getting this yet. The part at the beginning, when Fertita is noodling and Jack is posing, standing, at the drum kit, IS PART OF THE SONG....PAY ATTENTION. There's only a couple quiet parts in the show and both of them end with Jack being center stage. It's the foreplay beforet he sonic mind-fuck. Half the song is done at the mic, with no instrument, before he returns back to the kit for the explosive finish. Great spotlight on singer and song.
I Cut Like A Buffalo: I'm giving this one to Jack 'cause I don't think it's fair to blame Alison for it.
Child of A Few Hours: Can you say 'weird'?
Rocking Horse: Getting better every night. Didn't take too much to this song at first but now I'm loving the interplay.
Will There Be Enough Water?: What can be said about the epic album tune? It's simple and simply over-the-top all at once. Must be seen to be appreciated, like lots of Jack's stuff. The image of the two singers, face to face, lip to lip, behind the lead vocal mic reminds me of those silhouettes we used to cut out in crafts. They are like twins. Jack's guitar blow-out is vintage Jack and crumbs for the audience all at the same time.
Here's the set list and a few mp3's.
Track 01 Intro
Track 02 60 ft Tall
Track 03 Bone House
Track 04 Hang You From The Heavens
Track 05 You Just Can't Win (Van Morrison)
Track 06 Band Intro/Bitch Talk
Track 07 So Far From Your Weapon
Track 08 I Cut Like A Buffalo
Track 09 Child of a Few Hours
Track 10 Rocking Horse
Track 11 No Hassle Night
Track 12 Will There Be Enough Water?
Track 13 audience/encore
Track 14 Forever My Queen
Track 15 Treat Me Like Your Mother
Track 16 New Pony (Bob Dylan)
Finally, the end of a gruelling 14 days with 8 concerts in 5 cities as CR Avery pulls me out of my stupor with a lengthy set at Hamilton's This Ain't Hollywood. Not as gruelling as it's been for this band of gypsies as they've criss-crossed Southern Ontario in search of festivals and stages the past few weeks.
Tonight there's no ticket at the door, I think the band is playing for drinks. The crowd is sparse early in the evening but by showtime we have a decent, if boisterous, gathering. This bar is in the process of changing it's identity...very early in that process, so not everyone here tonight was expecting live music. Sometimes the artist challenges the audience, sometimes it's the other way around.
We have a replacement for Serena Eades in the Legal Tender String Quartet, sister Laura Bates,if I heard right. This fusion of strings and hip-hop has been enjoyable. Meredeth Bates on lead violin has gained in confidence and her sound adds a unique quality to all the songs, from the moody swirls in The Ballad of Charlie Parker and Patsy Cline to the chops in Folk Singer and the swing in Bigger Fish To Fry. On bass and cello Evan Bates holds the beat, which isn't as easy as it sounds when you consider CR is wont to ramble and improvise. Drummer Matthew Rogers doubles as 'strings arranger' and his job was mostly completed before this collective hit the stage...what we are reaping are the rewards of his labour.
Was hoping for 2 sets tonight but the bar found a last-minute fill in for the opening slot. Gord Lewis, of Teenage Head fame, supported on guitar. Don't know if that's 'nuff said but that's all I'm going to say.
For the first time since September 2005 I'm not taping a show in stealth. Got a soundboard patch. Wish I didn't as the guy manning the board neglected to turn on my output until about 57 minutes into the show. No matter, I got to applaud, laugh, sing and get up to take a piss, instead of playing the human mic stand for two hours.
CR had to work this crowd. The beauty of his shows is that you don't really know what you're going to get. Tonight he came into the audience for 3 songs in an attempt to win the attention of the chatters. I've seen this work to perfection, where he mesmerizes the crowd and you can hear a pin drop beneath his unamplified vocals. You coulda heard one tonight but it would have had to have been a bowling pin, followed by 9 others crashing against the back wall. But for those in close we got a great rendition of Bigger Fish to Fry and Midnight Gold Mining. Earlier in the evening he came out to finish Parker/Cline. While CR is taper friendly, he's not taper easy. If he has to work, then everyone has to work for their stuff.
Don't have a complete set list tonight...due to the aformentioned technical difficulties, but here's a few samples of what did come out.
From the soundcheck
Hank William's Lost Highway
Town To Town
From the main set
Channeling Frustrated Energy
Midnight Gold Mining
Folk Singer (fast version)
Get off the couch and support your local artists!
And if you can't get off the couch roll over a little, pull out your wallet and buy CR Avery's Magic Hour Sailor songs at CD Baby