Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Memorable Moments from the SECOND Las Vegas THE WHO Quadrophenia Concert 02-10-13

Memories from The Who’s 2nd LV Quadrophenia Concert, Sunday 02-10-13

  • Seats this time were two rows closer – the identical seats we’d had for Roger & Simon’s Tommy tour.

  • The 5” platform shoes I bought after the first concert were WELL worth the cost and discomfort. Without them I still would have struggled to see anything, even though the seats were a bit closer. This experience was 1000% better AND the crowd and the concert were also much better – it was an AWESOME experience and concert!
  • From the start I was awestruck and grinning with – there they were! I could see! Directly in front of me!
  • I could see Pete clearly most of the time, and Roger much of the time. Pete was ab-so-lute-ly on fire. Everything was just working and the band was HOT.
  • Roger sang really well. There was a point after we noticed some pot smoke around, and Roger had noticed it and angrily signaled to someone to get rid of it… after that he struggled and labored with his singing for a bit, so we were worried the rest of the concert would suffer. But he recovered and thereafter continued to kick ass.
  • Again this time, in Helpless Dancer, Pete had the audience sing the “lesbians and queers” lyric, indicating that hey, it wasn’t him saying it and being all politically incorrect… haha.
  • I’ve Had Enough was powerful and in-your-face, the perfect harmonies full and exquisite yet pumped up – not plaintive and poignant as on the album, but assertive, aggressive – an eloquent “take that!” definitive push. Yes, I’ve had enough, dammit!
  • I tried to get video of Drowned, not because I particularly love the song (not one of my faves), but because Pete was so intensely immersed and going all-out on it, it was transporting. At the end of the song, he gestured to the audience and said we were the water. Then – I suddenly “got it.” (Looking at lyrics again now, I see several “meanings.” He might not have originally intended the “audience/water” one and/or it might have just been to engage the audience – although I don’t think he’d pander – this brought a new dimension to the song for me.) It was mesmerizing.
  • The funny, drunk, talkative girl in front of us for a bit made her way near the stage, then came back, grabbed me in a clinch and was spouting, “I was all the way near the stage and then this RUDE security guard kicked me back!” I said yeah that had happened to me, too, on Friday. She said, “You don’t understand, he was RUDE and he kept kicking me back! He wanted to see my ticket stub!!!” I said that yes, I did understand because it had happened to me as well. She said, “But they didn’t understand, the band had INVITED me there!” At that point I gave up, wanting to watch and listen to Bell Boy. Bell Boy-oy!!
  • After one of Pete’s solos, the drunk talky girl said to me, “He’s, like, the best guitar player – EVER!!!” (Of course, I heartily agreed.)
  • TOO many great songs and musical and performance moments to even begin to describe or enumerate.
  • Whenever I was videotaping, I was always holding the camera well above my head – I often couldn’t see with my line of sight on stage what the camera was seeing. My right arm is much steadier than my left, and holding it up like that for so long was very difficult, but pain? Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh who cares?
  • Also when videoing, I’d have to zoom in in order to make the perspective the same as what I was seeing live. Otherwise the video seemed too far away. They were right there, man!
  • There was an obnoxious man behind us yelling extremely loudly & gruffly “Yeahhhh!” which was very disruptive L.
  • Unfortunately, due to a screwup, some of my fave videos from the show have no audio. I have separate audio but it’s of poor quality. L  Maybe I will be able to fix/grab audio and sync it up. I hope so!!!
  • There was a point where I was in the aisle and there was absolutely nobody standing between me and Pete, about 20-25 feet away. I took a few seconds of video (portrait mode) just to commemorate that. IF he’d looked up (and he didn’t – damn!) he’d have seen me. It was just a weird and cool moment, to be there with nobody between us, even though it was at a distance.
  • I had made my way partway up the aisle before Behind Blue Eyes, and stood there for most of that. I was relatively close and had really wanted to get video of at least the start of Pinball Wizard. Then the guy standing in front of me said something I couldn’t hear, then he walked away and I saw the security guy clearing people away again. So I went back to my seat. (Friday’s drama when I was close & got kicked back was at this same spot in time. AND it bears mentioning that when I saw Roger & Simon do Tommy, I was getting a drink at the bar and the bartender started talking to a co-worker instead of just giving me my change and so I’d missed Simon do the start of Pinball Wizard then, too.) There always seems to be drama for me around Pinball Wizard… L. I wanted SO much to see that up-close L. I’m not sure I even remember the rest of the song…
  • When I went back to my seat area, security was NOT clearing the aisle up there, and a thick crowd had congregated, mostly blocking my view even from my good seats. A GIANT man stood RIGHT in front of us. He had his girlfriend in front of him. I couldn’t see one bit. Finally I saw a spot in front of him so I said, “Excuse me!” and squeezed around him and into the gap a bit ahead of him. This was during Won’t Get Fooled Again, and I was recording it… when the part came – “You know that the hypnotized never lie” and Pete says, “Do ya?!?” I said it really loudly, and the guys in front of me – who were also really into it – turned and must have decided that I was A-OK to know the song that well, haha, and they said, “Here, come in front of us!” and let me go forward even further, and helped me aim my camera.
  • They DID do Tea & Theatre this time, for which I was in the aisle at around the 6th or 7th row. 
  • At the end, after nearly all had left the stage, Pete was still on stage toward the wings to my right, and I was in the aisle around the 7th row. Everybody was leaving and there was almost nobody in the aisle/pit area near the stage, and Pete was still standing there gesticulating with kind of a bowing toward Roger. So I strode quickly up into the area maybe 2-3 rows from the stage, waving frantically like a doofus at Pete, begging him just to wave to me, haha. He didn’t even seem to see me there. Damn! So close! Maybe 10 feet away, but he was up on the stage which added some vertical distance. Oh Pete….all I really wanted was a wave. And maybe an autograph…someday…
How do I grasp and retain for forever the memory of how it felt to be there, be that close, see what I saw, feel what I felt? To be so close to Roger and Pete I could almost have smelled their aftershave… To see the sweat on Pete’s shirt and see firsthand the folds of the fabric as they gave in to his windmills…  the shirt with just one or two buttons fastened partway up so that when he raised his arm in his fury and fire, the shirt parted in an upside-down “V” and his belly exposed (along with belly button… I know, that’s something weird for me to remember, but hey…)  His glance across the crowd darting here and there and … if I were lucky… perhaps it would fall on me for one nanosecond… the possibility was there. The beat and the lights and all the chords and sounds coming together in a powerfully perfect, magnificent cacophony of transcendence…  Seeing the light glimmer and dance off Roger and Pete in a way that’s different from seeing things farther away – more alive, more 3D, more real… REAL people standing right in front of you, doing their magic right there, not icons viewed across distances, football fields, television screens, but real, live people as near to me as my home’s front door from where I sit right here. People. Not characters. Not objects read about and viewed in films and videos and documentaries and articles and books. People.

It may seem weird, but this is meaningful to me.
And this – I never thought or expected to be able to happen. To see them in person at all. And to be so close as to experience it in this way.

To stand a few feet away and – albeit acting like a doofus trying to get a wave from Pete – just being there, and experiencing that.

Very, very special.

I hope I can trust my memory to retain the feeling of it. The vision. The realness.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Memorable Moments from the Las Vegas THE WHO Quadrophenia Concert 02-08-13

Memorable Moments 

  • The gal a few rows ahead of us just off the aisle who spent the entire concert waving her arms sinuously in the air.
  • Pete stabbed his hand on the whammy bar during a Quadrophenia song and had to leave the stage for a few minutes to stem the bleeding and get it bandaged.
    • Later he said that one of the challenges of doing Quadrophenia live was that there were no breaks to talk “or to bleed.”
  • At one point, Roger got extremely angry & upset because someone was smoking despite the announced request that nobody smoke because he is very allergic to it. Roger let loose with a swear-fest about it.
  • The little man in the black suit, white shirt and white scarf who looked very tinily dapper until he spent much of the concert in the aisle dancing with a peculiar arm-whirligig-dipping motion, then used his scarf to snap into the air in front of him for awhile. Reminded me of, “I don’t always go to concerts, but when I go to The Who, I really let loose as if on X.”
  • AND - despite my frantic attempts to draw one, I was unable to add to my "celebrity wave" collection with a wave from Pete Townshend. Bummer!!! (My collection currently consists of a wave from Roger Daltry and another from Shania Twain.) He waved to the balcony. He waved to the other section. Nowhere near me. :( 
And for the rest of the comments, here's a little perspective.
Before the show began, I took a picture to show just how close to the stage our seats were:

It's not very far, right?
And so, here are the rest of my notes:

  • Not being able to SEE. I'm a short gal, and tall people were in front of me every which way, and everyone stood the entire time. Peeking through changing windows of visibility… very distracting and upsetting.
  • The extremely tall guy who was just in front of and to my left, blocking my view of Roger. At one point he leaned to the right to talk to someone else and entirely obscured my view. I said, “I can’t see!” and he argued with me, “But I’m over there!” (pointing). I said, “Well, you’re not over there now.” 
  • Ironically, both Extremely Tall Guy and the Tall Girl with the Hair Up and Big Earrings Directly In Front Of Me Obscuring My View did not seem to even care about the concert. The people who they were with (sitting more toward the middle) cared, but these younger folks didn’t really even seem very “into it,” as if they'd just been brought along. It got me angry that this was ruining my experience when I CARED MORE THAN ANYTHING and I’d spent so much and it MEANT SO MUCH TO ME. I really had trouble getting past that. It was an extremely difficult situation for me.
  • Moving down the aisle a few times to get in closer. Once even spurred on by a blonde woman behind me urging me in my ear, "Go, go, go, go, go!" This after I'd already been sent back to my seat by Security, but when a GIANT man planted himself squarely in the center of the aisle holding a camera above his head, it was necessary for me to move in order to see anything at all. Security starting hassling me a lot and finally, even when I was near our seats, came over and demanded to see my tickets. >:-[  I let loose on them - perhaps I was "technically wrong" but I didn't care - that I COULD NOT SEE and I paid a LOT OF $$ for these tickets and it was IMPORTANT to me and I COULD NOT SEE. (I know they don’t care, but I was about the only one in that situation back there, couldn’t they have let me stand a couple of rows up??? Everyone else was in the aisle…Shit.)
  • At one point I was standing about 20 feet away from Pete. Awwweeesooommmme! Couldn’t really savor the moment, though, because Security came and kicked me back. 
  • All this really prevented me from being able to “connect” with the concert and the fact that it was The Who live in front of me, and not just one of the videos I’m so ingrained with. It was all very distracting and upsetting. I couldn’t appreciate the concert very well because I could barely see the performers – and when I could see part of them (sometimes by having to continually crane or duck my head side-to-side), it was only the one performer at a time. I couldn’t watch both Roger and Pete.
  • Some of the video I took, I just held the camera way over my head and pointed it at the stage. I could not actually see what was going on. (Yes, I know there are video screens that I could have been watching, but that just makes it seem like...watching a video. If the act is in front of my person, I want to watch them in person, not view an image of them when they are actually right there in front of me.
  • Some video I took became abbreviated because of Security hassling me for being forward of my seat and in the aisle (although I tried to stay at the edges of the aisles, and it seemed like there were other people more flagrantly misbehaving that weren’t as hassled as I was).
However, there were a few moments when I saw Pete wail, going at it with his particular genius on guitar, and that I was in the presence of  it was something very special. The sound was great, there were times when parts were done differently and even more interestingly than on the album (a shame that there’s no download of it?) and the performance was excellent. I just couldn’t see it L.
You see... This wasn’t “just a concert” to me. It was more like a spiritual pilgrimage: 

Imagine there’s a place – a city – your soul burns to visit, only it’s very, very far away and not even open to the public. It’s walled up and nobody can go there. You think about it and yearn for years, never believing you’d actually have the chance to go there. Then the city unlocks its gates and allows visitors – only it’s for just a short period of time. They may never unlock those gates again. And even if they do, you may not have the chance to go. So you do ALL you can to go right then, right now. Your soul is in disbelief that you can actually do this. But you put together all your resources and make it happen. It’s a struggle, and challenges arise along the way. But this is so important to your soul, you want to give it the best shot you can.

You finally arrive at the city’s gates. You’ve arranged for the best transport available to you. But as you reach the gates, they partially close. You cannot see above them. You can barely see the city itself. You try to go toward the gate, to breathe the air of this place, to feel the atmosphere and experience being there. But you are shoved aside. Others much larger than you take precedence, and you – despite your equal resources, and despite the way this place, this city, touches you and thoughts of it alone have been life-changing for you – despite all that, you are not permitted to see the city, breathe its air or feel its terrain. Despite others’ full view, and despite your supposed equality to them, you are only permitted to view a glimpse through cracks in the fence, while they are able to experience it fully.

The word is: “Them’s the breaks.”
But I have a right to feel disappointed.

Now... Lest you think I was simply a miserable ass during this concert – that wasn’t the case, I just honestly found the difficulties to be so pervasive that unfortunately they pretty much overwhelmed the experience, despite my trying earnestly to push them aside..

So, here also were some of the memorable “Good Parts:”
  • Pounding and punching the air furiously along with thousands of others singing along with songs – Punk and the Godfather… I’ve Had Enough… and anytime the Zoot Suit lyric came up…
  • Filling in along with the crowd when Pete turned over the singing of the now-politically incorrect phrase “just like the lesbians and queers”… 
  • Everyone feeling empathic with Simon’s rendition of The Dirty Jobs and “gettin’ put-down,” “gettin’ pushed-round” and “bein’ beaten every day.”
  • Finding it impossible not to sing along with every song...swept along on the wave of sound
  • The oh-so-different energy of the crowd just two rows forward filled with people who were seriously digging the time they were having, the music and The Who.
  • The poignancy of the inclusion of Keith Moon and John Entwistle’s oh-so-familiar parts in Bell Boy and 5:15.
Songs performed after Quadrophenia were (not necessarily in this order):
  • Who Are You
  • Baba O’Riley
  • Behind Blue Eyes
  • Pinball Wizard
  • Won’t Get Fooled Again
…and, they surprised me by not ending with Tea & Theatre.

And now I'm having tea, after the theater, just me.

Friday, February 8, 2013

On the eve of the first LV Quadrophenia concert…

Wow, didn't realize it had been so long since I last blogged. Hmmm... And it's The Who bookending the gap.

Often comes the question, “Which do you like (or think is) better – Tommy or Quadrophenia?

It depends.

To me, Tommy is more inspired, whereas Quadrophenia is more intellectual.

Tommy is more touching with raw emotion (though not sentimental!), while Quadrophenia is more refined and mature.

Tommy has more tenderness and playfulness, while Quadrophenia has more of an angry power.

Tommy is more spiritual with an element of innocence even as it flirts with themes of hypocrisy, whereas Quadrophenia is more grounded in the grit and disillusionment of real life.

Tommy is more natural and organic, while Quadrophenia is more determined and driven.

As far as Quadrophenia goes, I feel that Punk and the Godfather, and perhaps Helpless Dancer, could belong just as well as Lifehouse songs. But I could be wrong. J

A friend who attended the concert in San Diego the other night told me that Zak Starkey did not play due to a medical issue. I truly hope he plays this weekend, as I love the way he plays these challenging compositions with such an appearance of ease, and the history/lineage he shares with the band which makes him a fitting and uber enjoyable member.

Having experienced the outrageous awesomeness of Roger Daltrey and Simon’s Townshend's Tommy tour a bit over a year ago, I am still a rookie when it comes to being in the presence of “The Who” as an entity.

Yes, this is my first time.

I came to my appreciation of them later in life – a pity, since they have been hugely influential for me. Here’s why: Because their songs aren’t formulaic. They don’t revolve around typical song topics. In the words of someone else about a different artist (I think it was the White Stripes guy)…. “I didn’t know you could DO that!” When I was starting to write, the feedback I received was derision because my work “wasn’t like what you hear on the radio.” Wrongly, I thought you had to write like that. I let the derision put me off-course. A major, and tragic, life error which I am hoping to still rectify.

In the meantime, I know my fantasy of singing backup with The Who is not going to happen. My dream of playing guitar (even with my elementary skills) with them on I Can’t Explain, The Kids are Alright or Substitute will also go unrealized. And my dream of casual conversation with them… yeah, not gonna happen either. At least, I hope, not in the form of my actual dream, in which I met Pete Townshend and we were involved in a discussion where he went off on an intellectual tangent that I couldn’t follow, and so I sat there trying to act as if I knew what he was talking about and desperately trying not to “look stupid.” So perhaps it’s a good thing if some dreams don’t come true. ;)

That is all for now.

~~LV’s #1 Female Who Fan

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thoughts after Roger Daltrey's TOMMY concert (with Simon Townshend)

I went to the Tommy concert at the Hard Rock on Oct. 22, 2011. And as silly as it sounds, it was life-changing for me.

But then, I often think that if I had discovered The Who earlier in life, it might have completely changed my life, as it may have encouraged me to keep pursuing the path I'd intended in the first place. But that is not what this post is about.

Roger Daltrey's voice, while not in prime shape, was better than it's been lately (he's had a couple of surgeries) - and in the live experience, wrapped within the resonance of all the instruments and backing vocals in the small-ish venue, you really didn't much notice his issues. After the first few notes he sang, I found myself pleasantly surprised, as I'd heard a few download samples from his prior shows and the ones I'd heard didn't sound that great. But live - live - he was...great.

What this experience was, was... indescribably amazing. To me, at least.

I'd never been to a Who concert before so I'd never experienced the power of this music performed live and sung by Roger. Simon Townshend (Pete's brother) also starred in the show, and is a great musician in his own right.

(My thoughts will ramble, I apologize if they are incoherent. In my head, they are one big swirling circle still trying to digest the awesomeness.)

This was not just a concert. This was an event. An Event, with a capital E. An Experience. Like being a part of history, and experiencing it knowing that it's history, both going back in time and simultaneously being in the present. It's difficult for me to explain the Epic-ness of this event.

Tommy itself is more than just a classic (or, as Roger puts it, "A Fvcking Classic!") - it's truly a genius work. Genius. I won't parse out for you all the reasons why, but it...just...is. (If I were to attempt it, words would fail me, and you'd still end up thinking me a fool.) Its entity as a whole is something much greater than the sum of the parts, and being able to experience it live (albeit without its creator) is something that touches the soul and changes a person, goes well beyond appreciation or enjoyment to a level, a dimension which I Can't Explain (pardon the pun).

It just...is.


I'd wanted to get tickets when they first became available, but was put-off by the seemingly sour samples of Roger's singing we'd heard. But I was confused when the show kept getting great reviews. Finally, just a few days before the concert, I decided I WANT TO GO, and got tickets. (And boy, am I glad I did!) At that late date, the best seats I was able to obtain were about 16 rows from the stage. Very good seats, but I would have preferred to be even closer.

Arrived early and the seats slowly filled around us. A couple sitting directly behind us were cute. The man kept saying in an awestruck voice, "I can't believe I'm going to see Roger Daltrey!" He repeated this 6-8 times before the opening notes of Overture were struck.

Sitting next to him was a large, loud, obnoxious man and his daughter. The loud man proudly proclaimed, "My daughter is only 20 and knows ALL The Who songs!" The loud man then announced, "I'm going to be talking through the entire show, just so you know!" I turned and shot him a semi-dirty look, hoping it wasn't true. He'd better not ruin my experience! I couldn't believe I was going to see Roger Daltrey! :)

Soon enough discovered that the man sitting directly in front of me was giant, entirely blocking my view. Luckily my seat was on the aisle, and I was able to lean awkwardly into the aisle to watch Roger.

As you might recall from my thoughts after the Paul McCartney concert... I still have difficulty with reconciling myself to the reality that the actual legendary person is right there in front of me. I found everything quite overwhelming. I couldn't process and take in all the facets and dimensions of the experience. I found myself not able to pay attention to some aspects. If I was enjoying the music, I wasn't cognizant that it was actually happening right in front of me. If I concentrated on the reality of what was happening, I wasn't as able to "get into it." I wanted to take video of parts, and that distracted me - but without the video, I was afraid I wouldn't later be able to recollect the experience as my having been a part of it. It was confusing and overwhelming. I had difficulty staying "in the moment." Afterward, had trouble refreshing my memory with the sense of "having actually been there." There was just too much dimension to it all.

After the show, I thought, if it hadn't been so late in the tour, I'd have been tempted to buy a ticket and hop a plane to another show elsewhere nearby in the country. So that maybe I could sort through all the dimensions and lock it more clearly into my faltering brain cells.

Yeah, it was that good.

"Good" isn't even the word - but superlatives fail me.

Lemme get back into the nitty-gritty.

Opening the show, Overture featured Roger banging tambourines together. So familiar, after the countless filmed concerts and documentaries I've seen - that I almost couldn't register that this was any different, that he was standing right there in front of me banging those tambourines. Then I realized, "Hey, I can actually hear the sound directly off the tambourines!" Not through the mic - not through the speakers - but the actual chank chank chank was coming off the tambourines and going directly into my ears, unaided, because I was close enough to hear it. Wow.

(Yeah I know I sound weird and starstruck, but any Who fans out there might understand.)

Sparks is like sex. Okay, yeah, I said it. Sparks (the song - here seeming to be abbreviated, but then later I realized Underture was not performed, and possibly the version I'm accustomed to is a combination of them) - is an absolutely amazing composition. It takes you on a ride, building suspense to a partial release, then building again...more and more, a tense and powerful and passionate climb, finally exploding in an orgasmic miasma of time and sound and rhythm and physical percussive/bass sensation. Then, finally, comforting with gentle chords, a musically applied calming stroke, "there, there," tenderly delivered.

After every.single.song, the loud obnoxious guy behind us shouted through the applause, "THANK YOU! THANK YOU ROGER!" (I'm guessing it was his attempt to be "different?" Or to be heard on the recording? Who knows.)

I was having trouble seeing past the giant in front of me, and leaning into the aisle was very uncomfortable. I looked around behind, and the folks behind us were mostly standing up. The loud obnoxious guy said, "Go ahead, stand up! Stand up!" so I did. I checked behind me, and the "I can't believe I'm going to see Roger Daltrey!" man's partner was still seated but grinned at me complacently, so I stayed standing for much of the rest.

The only problem with standing was that it made me want to dance. It's impossible not to move to the music. Dancing made me lose track of the Reality of His Presence. And I was, I'm sure, embarrassing. I fake-played guitar. I strummed a la' Pete to the power chords. I raised my fist to ever-increasing heights to the part of "Smash the Mirror" with the lyric, "can't you feel my temper rise....rise.... rise.... RISE..... RISE...... RISE.... RISE...... RISE!!!"   I looked around, and many others were doing it, too. We were a club, a special fan-love sharing in this Who experience, and we all understood. It was all right, yes I think it's all right, and the kids were alright.

A drunk woman came up next to me and slurred that she'd been standing near the stage until Security kicked her out. "Come dance up the aisle to the stage with me!" she cajoled. I declined.

Throughout the concert, Roger clearly enjoyed himself immensely. He was full of smiles and obviously was having a great deal of fun. His antics with the microphone - throws, twists, turns and wild loops through the air and around himself - created an impressively awesome skilled wire-ballet worthy of Olympic sport, and a final airy fling with a slight airborn pause effortlessly landed the mic back into his hand just in the nick of time to start singing again. Awesome.

At some point, the loud obnoxious man behind us began hitting my arm enthusiastically. I turned around and growled with a pointed finger, sternly and angrily, "DON'T - hit - me! DON'T - hit - me!" He looked taken aback - I'm not sure he realized what he was doing - but he didn't hit me anymore. I found this a bit upsetting and hoped it wouldn't spoil my experience, so I tried to put it out of my mind.

At the end of Tommy - during the finale, Listening To You - EVERYBODY was UP. UP and singing and sharing in the...almost holiness...of the experience. I couldn't see, so I stood up on my chair. People were pointing in the air rock-style and singing along. Standing on my chair, I waved a silly "Hi How Are Ya Hey Lookit Me!" wave to Roger. He saw - and waved to me back!!! ROGER DALTREY WAVED TO ME! Me, personally! With a slightly goofy grin while he did it, which makes it even better. (I know it was me he waved to - nobody else around me was waving like that, and his wave duplicated mine exactly. :D )  I have some video, but I lowered the camera during his wave so it's not captured, dangit.

After the Tommy part of the concert ended, I reflected on it. I knew I had just been in the Presence of Greatness. It had been almost a religious experience. The Who are my religion. I would follow him/them around, if I could. Then I realized the utter irony of that thought, given the theme of Tommy, itself. And snickered to myself.

A few days later, a thought sprung into my head about the origin of Tommy - a possible originating set of cirumstances - but I will likely never know. Even if I ever had the chance to ask Pete, I would not be able to - it is too intensely personal to ask him and for me to express, and not appropriate to "go there." So I'll keep my thoughts on that to myself, and since it's come to mind I'm able to relate a lot of the songs into that theme. But I will always wonder.

A few thoughts on Simon Townshend. Now, I've recognized Simon for some time, since I first saw him brought into the group and when he sang Dirty Jobs (with a bus driver hat on) in a concert film. I enjoy watching and enjoy his voice - similar to Pete's, but with a slightly harder edge and less bell-like sustain. I particulary enjoy watching them perform together... Maybe because I, myself, come from a musical family whose members frequently sang together for fun, relishing the harmonics that siblings create...  Maybe it's the "brother-ness" of it. The similarities but differences, the way they matchingly rock on their feet while playing, the way their voices fit together like puzzle pieces. But I wonder if Simon resents his role in the band - always being "Pete's brother" and not necessarily seen as his own self - or if he truly enjoys it. Simon is a great musician and singer in his own right, so I just have to wonder if the shadow bothers him, or if the light he receives is enough. None of my business, but it comes to mind.

Usually in a Who show, Simon is off behind the bassist somewhere. For this concert he was up front, of course. Although I had trouble seeing that part of the stage, it seemed to me as if Simon wasn't as engaged with the performance and the audience, keeping more to himself and not putting as much of "himself" out there as I would have liked to have seen. But it's possible he did, and I just missed it. Later we Youtubed some performances from the original March 2011 TCT show at Royal Albert Hall, and Simon was definitely more engaged with the audience for that one. So perhaps for Las Vegas he was tired, winding down the U.S. leg of the tour. Perhaps he was just off that day. I don't know. But I do wish I could have seen "more" of him.

Now, on to the second part of the concert, a mix of songs.

During Who Are You, Roger did not do his "fake running" bit, and I therefore felt compelled to. (Told ya I was embarrassing.) It's a lot of work, that fake-running-in-place. But, it's a compulsion. Mandatory. A moral imperative.

Simon performed a GREAT, rousing rendition of Going Mobile. We'd previously seen a clip of him from another performance, so I knew it was coming... I've gotta admit, I did not like this song before, but Simon converted me into a lover of it. I now annoy people at work by humming and singing bits of it here and there. (Not that I don't normally annoy them in other ways, too :)

I was VERY pleasantly surprised that Roger performed Naked Eye - one of my favorites. I was standing in the aisle and tried to video it. A security guard came up next to/behind me - I couldn't really hear what he said, but I assumed it was to put my phone away, so I did. Sad, because I love love love that song. Unfortunately, I missed part because of that. :-(  But I purchased a download of the entire concert, so I do have the mp3.

Baba O'Riley was fantastic and, of course, an participatory event, with Roger grinning and holding the mic out for the audience to sing "It's On-Ly Teen-Age Wasteland."

During Roger's moving, beautiful performance of Without Your Love, I swayed my screen-lit phone back and forth in the air, as if it were a lighter. Surprisingly, nobody else seemed to do it. The song deserved the gesture, though.

(Would have loved to have seen Roger do Giving It All Away, but alas, it was not to be. I'd also wondered how difficult it was for Roger to perform there at the Hard Rock, given the sad history. He did not mention it, though.)

The band was supreme, the experience truly amazing, and for me a once-in-a-lifetime, life-changing one. I am sad that it wasn't professionally videotaped and available on DVD, like all the dates for the last Who tour were. I'd buy it. If only to help preserve the memory.

But at least I've got the mp3's of the entire concert. And on the recording, at the start of Red Blue & Grey, after Roger says "They're not kidding about it being a desert" - one can clearly hear the loud obnoxious guy behind me shouting, "THANK YOU ROGER!!!"

Yes, thank you. Thank you very much. :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

3D vs. 2D world...Hip Hop, Motifs and Belatedness

I rarely listen to music at work. Not because the music distracts me from my work; rather, it's the other way around. I like to immerse myself, especially if I'm wearing headphones - it becomes very intimate to me, I like to listen to, study, all the wisps and nuances and what went into each composition.

Recently bought a long-popular hip-hop artist's latest award-winning CD because I liked the tonality of a few of the tracks of which I've heard bits and pieces. I'm not "up" on the latest stuff in general, and this seemed like a great place to dive in. I know this isn't new to most, but it's relatively new to me to pay attention to it to this degree.

(I'm aware I'm not supposed to like some of the lyrics, but I do respect the expression and rawness - that's what art is for, expression. Right? Challenging. Instigating at times.)

On went the headphones...and I became submerged. Swimming, floating, arcing through the three-dimensionality of the intensity of emotion and orchestration of sounds and feelings that went into this tome. I was working, but in another world. Another galaxy. Surrounded by the pulsating cells of the music as they propagated and filled the mindspace around me. Reality became like an ocean of glowing particles and note-creatures and possibilities and being.

After a time, I had to rise. Removed the headphones. And was plunged rudely back into the subdued two-dimensionality of Cubicleville, suppressed.

What goes on in my head during the music - I think that's the real world. It's certainly the better one.

And while listening...I remembered back to a time when I first dreamed of, then obtained, my Yamaha keyboard. The universe of sound and creation it opened up in my head. The swirling, overwhelming galaxy of possibility. Back then, I saw, heard, felt my future-self creating such compositions as are commonplace now - but that had not yet come to be, by anyone.

And now...sheesh. I hope I don't want a Motif. Cuz I'm not sure I have the time or brainwaves to learn to use it. And it almost now seems moot, since somebody else already got there first. A long time ago. I'm more than a day late to the party...and a dollar (or a few thousand) short for the Motif. (Mootif?) No! No! Please don't make me want it! Puh-LEEEEEAZE don't make me have to have one, Oh Powers That Be!


Okay...That was yesterday.

The mood of the music is still resonating in my psyche this morning.

The sky is grey in the desert today. It suits the origins of the work.
Threats of rain.

There's so much POWER in the work. It's not just punchy mad scratchings and screaming mindless anger and whatever chords and notes and instruments fit, or purposely don't fit, thrown together, raw... This is thoughtful, highly intelligent, complicated...the sinuous syncopations of the lyrics take me on an almost-physical, ebbing and surging white-water ride.

Musically, tonally, this is what I had aspired to myself before there was anything like this. So yes, while awed, I'm also angry, jealous, worried, fearful. If/when I bring anything with any similar qualities to the table, it will have already been brought-ed - and I'd be viewed as copycat, when I got there independently and quite possibly earlier.

Is it too late?

The Rio's sign is still lit, sparkling against the drear on my way to work this morning. A rare occurrence.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Thoughts After the Paul McCartney Concert

It was almost a religious experience. I spent much of the time reminding myself that the actual man was standing right there in front of me.  (Note: I’ve never been to a concert from such a star before.)

We sat about midway at the side of the arena, and I had to keep tearing my eyes off the big screens featuring close-ups of him. I’ve seen him hundreds of times in concert videos, Anthology, documentaries, movies – going to see him in person, and just looking at yet another screen, did not give me what I needed. It would not have differed significantly from sitting in my living room. I wanted to look directly at him – in the flesh. Him, in person. After all, he is royalty. Rock royalty. He is Sir Paul.

And so, I did. I couldn’t see his facial expressions much (but glanced at the screens at times to try to catch them). But it was worth it. The constantly running internal monolog, still trying to process his presence – “that’s him right there, it’s him right in front of you, look at him – he’s a person.”

(When the lights glared off Paul’s guitar and into my eyes, I thought to myself, “The light is coming off of Paul McCartney’s guitar and right into my eyes! Those light particles are touching his guitar and then my eyes! It’s almost like physically touching!”  Okay, yes, I know, silly, but still – how often in life does the light bounce off a Person of Magnitude’s instrument and into your eyes? All right, I told you it was almost a religious experience. So don’t laugh too hard. Respect my religion!)

From where we were seated, when Paul sat down at the piano for several songs, I could see him from an angle to his side and from behind. This was an angle from which I’d never watched him play before. Most videos show him head-on, and you can’t watch him play. I watched him play. I watched him put his shoulders into the music. I – personally, in his presence – watched his hands roam the keys, and his forearms pistoning as he played his riffs. I watched Paul McCartney play piano. One of my instruments as well, so I could physically relate to what he was doing – so it was kind of mano-a-mano. Okay, not really. But – in those minutes, watching Paul play, I was watching the man play piano – as a man, as a person – he was just a person, playing the piano. Paul McCartney The Great, Sir Paul, the ultimate in pop/rock royalty, was just a person sitting in front of me, playing the piano. He wasn’t a god, he was just a person. And, after all the High Glorification of all these decades, that was a feeling I’m still having trouble wrapping my brain around.

He is just a person who writes music and performs. So am I. I’ll never be Sir Paul. I’ll never be to that level. But it’s still who I am.

Before the concert, a friend and I traded sympathies that Paul is engaged again. “That’s only because he hasn’t met ME yet,” we quipped to each other. But truth to tell, Paul would not like me. I would challenge him too much.

Yes, I would challenge Sir Paul.

For example, I’ve always wondered…after all the great, GREAT (in capitals) music he’s responsible or at least partially-responsible for – wtf is up with “Let ‘Em In”??? Seriously! “Someone’s knockin’ at the do-OH. Somebody ringin’ the bell. Do me a favor, open the door, let ‘em in.” Come onnnnnnnnnnnnn Paul. And the same for “Silly Love Songs.” At that point in his career, I’d always wondered, did Paul figure, “I can put out anything and it would be a hit”? Was he merely resting on his laurels and testing the boundaries of what drivel the public would revere from him? Seeing how far he could push it?

I mentioned this question to someone once; they responded critically toward me, “THAT’S what you would ask The Great Paul McCartney?!?” As if my lack of sycophantation was yet more proof of my horrible character. But yes, that’s what I might ask (as if, if I had the chance, any sound would emit from my mouth at all, besides a weak, giggly “Hi!”). BECAUSE he’s obviously so capable of much better stuff. Did he really think these were good? Or was he testing a Pablum for the Public theory? (With success, I might add.)

So I would challenge him. I would challenge him every which way. And I have the sense that he wouldn’t like that. So, sigh, Paul and I are never meant to be.

But that’s okay. He would keep me from my own pursuits, anyway.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Status Check!

So, what's the status, Kenneth?

It occurred to me - anyone who might be reading this, doesn't have any idea. Because I haven't told you. I do apologize for leaving you in the dark, as if my project was an amorphous blob.

Right now I am about half-way through laying the acoustic guitar track for this song I'm currently working on. However, I have a feeling it may go more quickly now than it has been so far. (I hope! I hope!) Once this main track is done, the rest of the instrumental tracks should go more easily, as the framework will already be in place.

I'm a little afraid to tackle the vocals on it, though - I got Auto-Tune, despite my feelings against it, because I thought it would make my life easier. However, I have no clue how to use it. :-) I'm not even sure it will work with my current ProTools version, and I don't want to upgrade, because so far my version has been very stable and I've had no troubles with it as it seems others did with their upgrades. I've heard there's a conflict between my ProTools version and Auto-Tune, or maybe more specifically, with the i-Lok that it requires. So, we'll see about that.

Now, in the GRAND scheme of things...   I currently have 9 songs recorded toward my CD. Those need various degrees of tweaking. I have about...hmmm...8 or so more in the hopper to record. It's pretty ambitious... but I feel strongly about including them all.

My current headphones are very old, all the leather has chipped off the earpads, and since they sit directly on my ears - they hurt. Pain. Real painful hurt. So I made New Headphones a priority, and have just purchased a set of AKG K271 MKII's (used). Crossing fingers they do the trick!

So that's the story. And I'm stickin' to it.
Thanks for stopping by - I appreciate your supportive energies!