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Viridian5 (viridian5) wrote,
@ 2002-07-07 14:25:00

Joey, If You're Hurting, So Am I
Concrete Blonde
Vanderbilt Theater
Saturday, July 6
8:00 p.m.

The Vanderbilt Theater was nice in an old-style space kitsched up kind of way. The bar lines the entire back of the ballroom, not that I drink. As one of the first people inside at 7:30, I grabbed a spot right near the stage and had a great view. The crowd was the most mixed group I've ever seen at a concert. Late teens through 40s. Goths, alterna-folk, regular folk, biker folk. One girl's bountiful breasts were desperately trying to escape the leather bra she barely restrained them in.

Concrete Blonde was great. But the opening act was 25 minutes of mime. Let me tell you about it. It kills me.

It took an hour after the stated show time to start. Then came mime.

At 8 the curtain went down, which pissed me off. Now they're setting up? An hour of boredom and old Bowie drags by. (You know, I don't really like early Bowie, and having so many bands play it before they go on doesn't help. It went from "I don't like that much" to "Argh, this is what they play while I'm waiting for the damned band to show up already." I'm a bad slasher. I like some of his 80s stuff and some of his industrial stuff. Right before Concrete Blonde came on "The Heart's Filthy Lesson" played, making me very happy.)

The curtain opens to show us a big trash bag, which is the only new thing on the stage since 7:59. The trash bag starts to move. Crowd: "Ew!" A hand pokes out and shakes. Another hand. Finally what looks like an old bag lady in white makeup and rags steps out and shakes. We wonder at first if it's Johnette. (We know she's a freak.)

We hope not since the bag lady doesn't seem to be wearing a shirt under the coat and scarves.

Bag lady twitches and sidles. Moves across the stage. Mimes riding a carousel. The crowd realizes, to its horror, that it is watching a mime. Mimes holding a baby. Takes off the coat and hat and we realize to our relief that it's a man.

Mimes kissing a woman. Mimes walking against the wind. Mimes being a junkie shooting up. Mimes devolving into an ape.

Mimes evolving into humanity. Mimes the evolution of modern weaponry, rocks to bows to guns to grenades to machine guns. Mimes World War II.

(I'm not kidding.)

Mimes dying on the end of a noose. Finally ends. Thunderous applause.

Because we thought it was over.

Then he wraps himself in a shawl and does his next thing. He's a bird, he's a ghost. He's dancing. He's inspiring the crowd to watch in stunned, silent "What the fuck?" mode. Finally it ends. The crowd is thankful.

Then the curtain comes down. The crowd goes, "What?!" One guy shouted that he'll clean up himself if the band would just come on. 20 minutes later, after many false light cues that led the crowd to expecting the band to start any second and led to annoyed rumbling since we'd just watched 25 minutes of mime so don't dick with us, Concrete Blonde comes on. And kicks ass. But still.

Johnette and "the creepy and scary" Jim wore identical Chinese pajama outfits, black with a pattern of cottages, bridges, etc. stamped on in gold and red foil, though Johnette went barefoot with hers. Given the way she moves her feet while fake Spanish dancing and wildly running and bouncing around on stage, barefoot makes sense. She currently has thick bleached blonde streaks in her naturally dark hair, which she wore kind of sheepdog style. The drummer who replaced Harry is great, though I couldn't make out his name during Johnette's often garbled stage patter. Sometimes you couldn't hear her over the roar and whistles of the audience either. It's a shame, because I came partly to hear her famously cracked and inane stage patter. I did hear her say that he's from Mexico City.

Their set drew most heavily from the new album, Group Therapy. The crowd sang along with the older songs and was surprisingly talented. ::grins:: "God Is a Bullet" especially kicked ass live, making it one of my favorite sections of the performance. But Johnette's vocals were often drowned out during the harder, louder numbers, with me keeping my right hand fisted against my right ear during much of the night to protect my hearing from the roar emanating from Jim's side of the stage. "Valentine," a new song I didn't like even on the album, sounded like a muddled mess. You couldn't hear her vocals. You couldn't make out the notes they were playing. They did a great, hard run through "Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)," which they're probably contractually obligated to play for the small but fervent crew of Goths who come to see them. Part of the deal with Satan they'd made to make sure that at least one of their songs will be played in clubs to the end of time. "When I Was a Fool" was another favorite moment. You can tell that she really loves the song. "Violent" was a fun, high energy thrash.

The crowd definitely contained some hardcore fans, since much of the audience could sing along to the new album songs and I heard shouted requests for "Run Run Run" and "Still in Hollywood," though "Caroline" seemed to be the favorite shouted demand. The band stuck to their setlist, though.

The songs, in no real order:
"God is a Bullet" ("This is for George Bush. He can kiss my fucking ass!")
"Everybody Knows" ("I didn't write this but I wish I did. It was written by some Canadian... Leonard Cohen.")
"Take Me Home" ("We actually made a video for this, but if you haven't seen it, it's not in our power. You did see it? You liked it?")
"Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)"
"Tonight" ("This is a song I wrote for a friend who's from another planet.")
"Mexican Moon"
"When You Smile"
"Days and Days"
song I don't know that 80% of the crowd did that might be named "It's Only Words"
"When I Was a Fool"
"Tomorrow, Wendy"

They also started hitting the hard liquor about halfway through the set. Maybe that explains Johnette's anti-suicide rap and revivalist preacher moments during "Tomorrow, Wendy." Then again, she's a freak. There has never been a rap in "Tomorrow, Wendy." Never needed to be one. Now you have a 45-year-old white singer rapping? Plus the revivalist moments:
Johnette, at the edge of the stage: "Do you believe that you need a priest to speak to God?"
Crowd: "No!"
Johnette: "Do you believe that you need a priest to speak to God?"
Crowd: "NO!"
She had us sing the parts about Jesus Christ, since we already were anyway. ("I told the priest / Don't count on any Second Coming / God got his ass kicked / The first time he came down here slumming / He had the balls to come / The gall to die / And then forgive us / No, I don't wonder why / I wonder what he thought it would get us.") She closed out the encore with "Tomorrow, Wendy" at 11:10.

I'm really glad I went, though I'm scarred by the mime and the rap.

current polish: Liquid Euphoria, Euphoric [deep blue purple with blue and green sparkle iridescence.]

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