Two-thirds of the audience did not have the ear for classically geared music or understand "The Ethel's" NewWorldFairportRoyLeroyWoodAndersonLyszt playlist and began applauding in the middle of the compositions, before the musicians began the next movement. After premature applause interrupted for the third time or fourth time within the first two songs, I saw the cellist, Dorothy Lawson, rolling her eyes in dismay. Some walked out after their performance.
I went to this show without any "casual fans" who might find Todd's performance "embarrassing." My husband enjoyed it fully, though it was not one of Todd's better performances. Todd's vocals amazed me at times and surprised me at times. I knew this was the first show on the tour. A tour made up of musicians who've only played once before together live and just came together with barely any rehearsal time. These folks all have lives in the real world. They cannot afford the luxury or haven't the backing to spend two weeks rehearsing in a city of their choice, before they are seen by the public.
When I'm going to see TR at a show during the first two weeks of a tour..especially the opener, I know it's gonna be filled with excitement and unexpected events. First, Todd did not appear stoned or drunk in my estimation. Second, Joe Jackson utilized sheet music the entire performance to help him recall the lyrics. Ethel also uses sheet music because of their complicated arrangements. Joe flubbed through two or of his songs. (Perhaps it was the insufficient lighting above the piano that TR later on asked the tech to fix?) One of them was his biggest song Steppin' Out. Joe added two bars of extra music to the tune so he could come back around to the chorus. You could tell Joe was uneasy, embarrassed and nervous. Then Joe flipped through his song book a bit more, while becoming a bit more at ease with the audience and engaged in a slight bit of conversation. His voice was not convincing, he seemed very shy and apprehensive about his performing, but the audience was respectful of him and enjoyed his act and a lot were singing along to his tunes. The audience, which seemed to have a majority of Jackson fans, seemed forgiving of his mistakes or inconsistencies. Jackson should also use a mike screen...too many popping P's! Some walked out in the middle of his performance, too.
Those of you who have seen TR flub know that he usually brushes it off in the most positive way, keeps a favorable attitude, kibitzes about it. Todd is from the "the show must go on" school. Some walked out before his encores began or Joe and Ethel's sets began, as well. Todd may not have been pleased about this show's execution, but he was gracious and grateful to the audience and was very sincere when giving his thanks to us.
Todd mentioned recently that he'd be adding some Liars songs into this tour and maybe some "oldies" we haven't heard in a while. The newest song in his solo repertoire, Pretending To Care, which he performed with Ethel and Joe was enthralling. Though Todd missed few of the short notes, his "wishing I'd fade away" falsetto crescendo note was so pure, it gave off a glow of light.
I have hope for this tour and think in time, as it blossoms, we will be hearing some material added, some taken out and changes made to the set list. This is why at this early point in time I don't feel any need to announce an official set list. There may not be a consistent one as the tour moves on.
Meanwhile as for last night, I enjoyed the buds of those blossoms, even if they were a bit seedy. I think this tour will clean up and eventually roll into a pleasant indulgence for all fans of Joe and Todd to imbibe of over the next week or two. Perhaps some future audience members may even get an earducation, listening to another type of music they may not be accustomed to hearing, from Ethel's world-classical music expressions.