Sunday, November 16, 2008

a friday night in lawrence


(how I spent my Friday night ... photo: me via the webcam).

I've been blessed enough in this life, that really, save for Jimmy Buffett, I have seen every artist I love in concert at least once.

And entering Friday night, if I had to rank my favorite concerts I've ever been to, here's four of my top 5:

* Paul McCartney at Arrowhead, summer 1992. The "Off the Ground" tour, me and my mom and 80,000 others singing every word to every song for 2 plus hours. Kind of like a religious experience if you will. (Just avoid getting my mom off on the Beatles. She still has the ticket from the 1964 show at old Municipal Stadium framed in the house. Which in her defense ... I would too).

In fact, to this day, the only "regret" I have when it comes to Chiefs football, is the Sunday night before Thanksgiving 1995. Chiefs hosted the old Houston Oilers. Tied up with less than 20 seconds to go. Oilers simply running the clock out to go to overtime. My first semester of college (yup, I'm old). I didn't come home for this game, I hadn't come up with the brilliant "all Tuesday / Thursday classes means 4 day weekends!" schedule yet. So I flip back to ABC because the Beatles Anthology is about to debut "Free as a Bird". And my mom and I are talking on the phone discussing the first "new" Beatles song in 25 years ... when all hell breaks loose in the dorm room next door to me (two fellow KC area students). It was Mark Collins returning the fumble by Todd McNair to give the Chiefs the most improbable of wins. Needless to say ... "Free as a Bird" is not one of my favorite Beatles songs.

* Ben Harper at Starlight, summer 2006. I love Ben Harper, but this one just rocked the house. Me, Dusty, Chris and Ryan. In a friggin monsoon. It rained like there was no tomorrow once Benny took the stage. A solid 90 minutes, smoking in the rain, singing along to every awesome word (he'd just released the amazing "Both Sides of the Gun" cd). Awesome stuff.

* Carole King at the Midland, spring 2006. A last second addition, my mom and dad were going but my mom was sick. So I filled in. And loved every friggin second of it. Seriously readers, "Tapestry" is one of, if not the single greatest, cds / albums / call it what you want, of all time. "I Feel The Earth Move". "So Far Away". "Its Too Late". "Tapestry". "Out In the Cold", a highly underrated song. My favorite song on the cd, "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" (listen for a young, up and coming, uncredited James Taylor as the backup vocal). A cd so incredible, that it spawned 7 top 5 smashes ... and she gave two of those 7 away to other artists! And even more incredibly, BOTH of them are arguably those famous artists "signature" song! "(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman". And "You've Got a Friend". Just ... to sit and listen to such incredible artistry for two plus hours, its something everyone should get to experience at least once.

* Projekt Revolution at Sandstone, summer 2004. I've detailed in the "answers to the quiz" post from late July why this one is my favorite concert ever.

But the fifth concert on my top 5 list ... is the one I'd compare Friday night's Matt Nathanson concert to.

It was a cold, late September evening in 2002. I went with this girl named Courtney to Sandstone that night to see Sheryl Crow. I honestly didn't want to go. I liked Sheryl Crow, but wasn't a huge fan. Plus, it was friggin freezing outside, it was in the 40s that night. But I liked the girl, so why not.

Michelle Branch opened for Sheryl that night. Awesome, awesome performer live. Just amazing. Plus I've always dug "All You Wanted", highly underrated song. So about 9pm, Sheryl takes the stage. She's just released a new cd, and plays some song off the new album I hadn't heard. Then, she takes the mic, and basically says the following:

(sheryl crow) Hello Kansas City!
(crowd) (roars its approval)
(sheryl crow) As I'm sure a lot of you know, I view this as my hometown venue!
(crowd) (more roaring its approval)
(sheryl crow) So as my loyal fans, I want you to decide what tonight's show will be! What do you want to hear?

And for the next 2 1/2 hours, she sang her classics, she sang other folks classics, it was an audience driven, audience interactive show. That's what Friday night was like with Matt Nathanson for me. A fun, full on interactive show that never left you bored, never left you tired, kept you into the performance, and was still rocking Lawrence hard at 1:20 in the morning, nearly 3 full hours after he took the stage.

A few highlights / recap thoughts:

* left for Lawrence around 5:45pm. I rode up with Heath and Sarah, because I wasn't staying the night. Dusty and Damien followed.

* Met up at Quinton's with Meagan, Mallory and Dana. A couple quick thoughts on what is rapidly becoming my favorite bar in Lawrence:

1. any place that has pint sized "well drinks" for $3, is my kind of joint. Even if they were a little watered down, its all good.

2. the double vodka tonic, holy Lord. I make my adult beverages "steve style" (aka a 50 / 50 mix of liquor and mixer). This thing was at least 60/40 booze. Awesome.

3. The bacon potato soup bowl is just amazing.

* left Quinton's around 8:15 to walk the three blocks to the Bottleneck for the concert. The line was impressive. Took almost half an hour to get in.

* the opening act, and the 2nd act, I liked them both. I apologize that I don't remember their names, but the opening act, I really liked. And that was the one Heath and Sarah said was "just ok" coming into this event. I really liked the lead singer. He's got a solid voice, has kind of a smooth style at the keyboard, good stuff. The chick who went 2nd was solid as well. And pleasant to look at. Always a plus.

* Finally about 10:30ish, the featured performer took the stage. As much as I like Matt Nathanson, I'm still new to some of his stuff. So I'm not the best person to recap his show, obviously. But "Car Crash" was his 2nd song, I like that one a lot. He also did "Bent" pretty early on, another Steve approved selection. Although I wish he'd gone off on the "Such Great Heights" closing rant by the Postal Service like he does on the live cd I have downloaded on my mp3 player. Its the perfect close to that song.

* He was big into audience interaction. Played off the crowd really well, I thought. Plus, its obvious that while he's serious about his music, he doesn't take himself seriously. I dig that in a person, the ability to make fun of yourself, to let the funny comebacks just roll off you and give the audience a cheap laugh. I love people like that.

* I also loved all the 1980s music he worked into his show. Anytime you get a Rick Springfield reference / partial song, its all good.

* Speaking of all good, $3 wells and draws all night. Let me get this straight: a concert venue with solid acts AND cheap booze?!?! (steve with stunned, shocked expression of amazement ...)

* Performed "Curve of the Earth" at about midnight. He was 90 minutes in at that point, and the four best songs of the night were yet to go. That's f*cking amazing.

* Followed that up with "I Saw", a song rapidly climbing my favorites list. Its my 3rd favorite he does (my favorite two closed the show for us, more below).

* My 2nd favorite moment of the night: when he divided the house up for A-ha's "Take On Me". Look it, I'm a child of the 80s. I love 80s music for the most part. And to have the entire audience chanting / singing at each other "Take On Me / Take On Me / Take Me On / Take On Me" and then unite for "I'll Be Gone ...", I just totally loved that moment of the show.

* My favorite moment though, was Matt performing back to back my two favorites by him. "Answering Machine" is my favorite song he does. I friggin love the lyrics. I love the sound. Just awesome stuff all around. (Good God, I'm sounding more and more like my mom with my use of the word "awesome". Might need to reign that in).

Then, following "Answering Machine", in Matt's words, "the single". "Come On Get Higher". I actually just closed my eyes as I sang along to the words, just soaked it all in. In an entirely unrelated development, I was probably pushing a .15 at that point as well, plus (bill clinton voice) I'd inhaled.

* After that, me, Heath and Sarah were out. After a quick, pretty much mandatory puke in the alley, it was off for home, which I reached at 2:24am. I finished watching some TV, set the alarm for 7:30, and got three hours of sleep before heading back to Lawrence for the KU / UT debacle.

All in all, an awesome, awesome concert ... that would probably rank 6th or 7th on my list of favorites. I would definitely pay to see Matt Nathanson again, and I strongly encourage all of you to do the same. Two huge thumbs up for Friday night's show.

I'll post some pics when / if they're sent on to me ...

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