Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tom Waits at the Palace

I went to see Tom Waits last night. I mostly know his early stuff: Closing Time and The Heart of Saturday Night, so I was only noddingly familiar or new to most of the set list, and that was fine. I'm such a completist, I'll be working my way forward in the Waits canon. He is a mesmerizing performer--that strange howl of a voice, which can still hit a softer, sweeter note every now and then, and his slightly derelict, street-person-prophet persona are distinctly him. The way he was lit throughout really struck me. I don't know how much was art, and how much was my imagination, but it was like watching a magic lantern show. His lanky silhouette would often form a dark shadow and it reminded me of a circus showman, an Old Testament figure, a conductor of the apocalypse.

On a side note, I thought it was funny and charming that in the stifling heat and humidity of Louisville, standing behind me in the Will Call line, MMJ's Jim James and Patrick Hallahan were all dressed up in their Sunday best--dark suits, tie, vest, shiny shoes--going to Church! That's serious devotion.

Here's a great link to Waits' Top 20 essential records as published in the London Observer. I love his descriptions. Interesting stuff.

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