Well, folks, I was…with Regina Spektor. I thought the first song she did, with no accompaniment except her own tapping on the mic, was really excellent. And I also liked the second song with her band. But after that I just felt everything was far too samey. Perhaps I should’ve taken more time beforehand to become familiar with her stuff…but she’s not on the European leg of the tour so I’m going to forget about her for now and investigate Jonathan Wilson (who?) the new opening act.
So anyway. We were in the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, TX, which is a basketball arena. I’d been thinking that the venue would be quite small, because a basketball court is small, but this proved not to be the case. It was vast (and sold out). They must like their basketball a whole lot in Austin. Matt and I had whiled away the time before the show started having very expensive drinks in the VIP lounge and we had enjoyed ourselves so much talking to fellow TP&TH fans that we had neglected to go and look at the merchandise…but never mind, I’ll have 6 more opportunities to buy stuff and I now know which T shirt Matt would like for his birthday.
Where was I? Oh yes. Imagine that we’re no longer in the VIP lounge but in our third-row seats watching the techies set up for the band. There was an enclosure with gear in it on the floor on our side of the stage and we saw some celebrity kiddiwinks having a tea party there, and after that Benmont Tench came and wandered round a bit, and so did Ron Blair, and so did someone who might have been Mrs TP, only I wasn’t quite sure. And then the lights went down, and everybody stood up and started to make a noise, and then it looked like this:
Which was our point of view, more or less; and it was a bit of a shame we weren’t further over so Matt could see Mike better, because he’s interested in Mike’s twiddly bits. But TP came over to our side a lot, and the only one we couldn’t really see was Benmont because he is a) on the far left and b) completely surrounded by keyboards. Also he is the smallest Heartbreaker.
By the way, I hope you’re not expecting an objective review, because I’m not capable of writing one. Remember they’ve been my favourite band by far for the last two years, I’ve listened to almost no music except theirs in that time, and this was the first time I’d seen them. Instead I will tell you some things about the set. It started and ended with greatest hits, but in the middle there was a fairly long section where they did more obscure songs from the back catalogue and songs by other people; this is the part of the set that varies from concert to concert and I’m hoping I get to hear the whole lot by the time I’m done. There were two songs from my own TP top ten, and this is one:
That’s Lover’s Touch, a not-bad audience recording from the first gig of the tour. The sound goes a bit funny in the middle, but not because of anything TP&TH did. My other favourite that they did was Refugee, but nobody seems to have made even a not-bad recording of that one. However, if you’ve read this far you probably know how it goes.
You can’t help singing along, so I did, and especially during Learning To Fly where TP encourages the audience to sing the chorus towards the end and he sings a descant over the top, which was lovely, though he didn’t do the bird-song whistly bit at the end. Perhaps (like me) he’s lost his ability to whistle. Also, our rendition of Free Fallin’ was apparently the loudest one ever – though he probably says that to all the audiences.
Afterwards when we were back in San Antonio and people asked Matt what it had been like, he said it was “pretty good”. But I said it was magnificent and wonderful and awesome and so on. In other words, it was just as I’d expected it to be. There were a couple of things that upset me though. One was that (despite being in the very expensive seats) we had four idiots in front of us who spent their time chatting, taking photos of each other and going in and out to get more beer. Why do people like that bother to go to concerts at all? [Discuss]
The other thing, which really distressed me, was that TP was unable to sing more than two songs at a time without going to the back of the stage, lighting a cigarette, taking a drag and putting it out again. I hadn’t realised his addiction was that bad. (I know he was trying to give up a year ago.) So, if you want to see him, I suggest you see him soon, or it may be too late.
Matt and I drove home, and as we approached San Antonio the sky filled with thunderclouds and lightning. It wasn’t as good as Jim Lenahan’s light show though.
Oh, and you maybe want to know whether I screamed. I had warned Matt beforehand that I might. No I didn’t. I spent pretty much the whole time with my mouth open in astonishment and joy, though. (Or singing.)