AN ALMOST SUMMER NIGHT'S EVE/POST-RAVINIA MUSINGS AND RAMBLES
CHICAGO/TODAY/DISARM/LONELY IS THE NAME/MY POOR TROUBLED HEART/FOR YOUR LOVE/THE ROSE MARCH/PERFECT/LET ME GIVE THE WORLD TO YOU/PRAIRIE SONG/MCIS THEME/TO FORGIVE/MUZZLE/TONIGHT, TONIGHT/GALAPOGOS/METHUSELA/33/1979/NOW + THEN/THE BEGINNING IS THE END IS THE BEGINNING/THE CRYING TREE OF MERCURY/AVA ADORE/PNWHEELS/STAND INSIDE YOUR LOVE/WHICH WAS YOU GOING, BILLY?/BURNT ORANGE BLACK/THE WORLD'S FAIR/OF A BROKEN HEART
Ladies and gentlemen, if that indeed was my only show this year, it was a good one. Which is not to say it was not without flaw or fault. But the crowd was fantastic and stayed to the last of what ended up being 28 songs over 2 hours 40. So let's go back, forward, and back again.
The Shredder and I rehearsed, not constantly at first, but over the last 3 weeks about 15 times; playing the whole set again and again so that we wouldn't get spooked by anything. Which for me lasted all but 4 songs when my mind blanked on line 5, verse 1 of LONELY IS THE NAME. Follow that with whatever was drying my throat to dust (lingering focus smoke, bbq's) and I turned into Alflalfa from Our Gang for awhile. Or as I call that voice: Croaky McGee. Apologies there, to you listening for that. As I'm overly sensitive to smoke of any kind, which is why you don't see the classic Led Zep-Norse fog as SP shows; despite Lawrence's pleading for such.
This noted, it felt good overall to play a true show for the first time in the year, plus the strong walk-up due to the kind weather helped the mood of all; all the way round. Jeff I thought was particularly fantastic, and delivered the kind of performance that shows why he's so valuable to SP2014 and on. Because no one in our world works harder than he, and that's saying something, and I can tell you that he's truly dedicated to being the best he can be.
Impressions from my end were the crowd enjoyed the panoramic journey of the set, and even our ability to uncoil what was stodgy; to show, I suppose, why from now on shows in any configuration: be they solo, SP acoustic, or SP rawk will be a can't miss event. Because from here on out my entire song catalog will be open game. Or as I messaged one stalwart, the 'walls are coming down.' As we refuse to pander to the reductionist theory that fans want to hear less music, not more. I'm not talking about playing long for long-sake, I'm saying that the shows themselves need to be more dynamic, more vibrant, more everything if SP et al is going to compete (and defeat anything) in the technocratic era.
And personally, I no longer desire to play into the idea that there is some difference between the differing periods of my music. For a Zwan song like OF A BROKEN HEART belongs next to DRUM + FIFE, and so on if it makes musical, emotional sense. New dynamics creating as such new vistas to explore, musically. Tours being shorter (overall) these days, we'll try to tweak up more by eroding our own notions of what is possible. For as a smart journo asked me the other day, 'what is the difference between these albums if you essentially wrote them all?'
The answer is self-evident...
As a solo artist, it's my wish to explore the whole song catalog in the way they were written: More intimacy, sure, but also less weighed down by strum and drang of a rock show.
The Other SP, or SP: An Intimate Evening, or SP Upside Down could be more like the RAVINIA show: as lots of music can be explored in unconventional ways, with different musicians contributing. As in Amalie's (of Ex-Cops) take on STAND INSIDE YOUR LOVE showed, or the vocal quartet arrangement of PINWHEELS.
And the SP Supershow we'll be us, all lasers blazon', with the added bonus of our having tried out fresher ideas in their proper, or solo or SP-alt settings. Or, better said: not in front of 60,000 people in a dusky field.
So back to RAVINIA: VIP event was fun, as we tackled KILLING MOON (by ECHO and the BUNNYMEN), PURR SNICKETY (more stridently), and OWATA (since it was written only a few blocks away from the venue). Questions too, I thought, were fab. Then we were off, to be followed by the R PRO TV camera crew (as we are in the process of filming episode #1/I think). On went the suit, and like a rookie I forgot to put in me ear plugs; which explains why the stage sounded so dang different. You'd think I'd never played before, or I'd have realized my error before song 13!?
Loved too playing some of my favorites, like: FOR YOUR LOVE, or THE ROSE MARCH, or PRAIRIE SONG; this being the ideal venue, out under the stars. And to my surprise I really did enjoy the MELLON COLLIE SUITE of: MCIS theme, TO FORGIVE, MUZZLE (whose lyric I essentially blew but sang like I was writing it as i went along), TONIGHT, GALAPOGOS, METHUSELA (for the 1st time ever), 33, and 1979. In that I predict more of the same, seeing as spotlighting a period of songwriting brought out a cool, hazy connections/vibes that couldn't be conjured otherwise. Makes me think we could do the same for SIAMESE, or ADORE, any album with a rich vein, and none would have to be the same as you could do any number of configurations of tunes even from a period. The 'songs from a particular year or two' mini-sets feeling to me like we're honoring something without despoiling it by playing under the weight of a commercial contrivance.
After receiving a standing ovation mid-show, which honestly was an overwhelming tribute and probably one of the best I've ever received, I said out loud I was worried how'd they feel about the darker 2nd half. But this is SP-land, my friends, and we don't travel without covering the day thru night, or day for night! (Plug in effect). And that, my friends, is why we play the game. To find what's on the other side of that black, brackish rainbow.
All said, my favorite part of the evening was the quartet section: with Amalie, Brian, and Sierra. Expect us to maybe record some music, Mama's and Papa's style. Yes, I just said that…
And lastly, we were all joined by my brothers and sisters from R Pro; about 30 in all; with even Col Jesse Corgan getting in on the act of hyping up the hirstute. Thankfully he didn't start apologizing on behalf of Croaky McGee. Or as I read somewhere, my 'well-preserved' voice. As we said goodnight, I felt the titter of: 'uh oh, here he goes again, ruining a perfectly good show'. But no, we were only up there to show familial love. With OF A BROKEN HEART saying what I'd have trouble saying now, which is to give thanks without sounding maudlin. For I am grateful, however clumsy or brawny my sign-off, or the company I keep, may be.