i am mostly a joe jackson fan - my exposure to todd was early on - the nazz and the first solo stuff. i liked it a lot - and still feel "hello it's me" is one of the absolute best pop songs ever written. as my attention drifted to other artists through the 70's & 80's i lost touch with his music. i had always heard how brilliant todd was, i just seemed to be listening to other stuff. when i saw he was going to be touring with joe i thought "great - i can spend an evening with jj and get to see and hear a past legend".
so, as i mentioned in a previous post i picked up some cd's that contained the music i didn't know - but would probably be hearing based on the set lists everyone was posting. after one listen to "liars" i was on the phone telling every one of my musically inclined friends what a brilliant piece of work it is.
so much for past legends . . . the subject, the writing, the playing . . . does the art form of rock & roll get any better than that? i felt reminded of kakfa's comment that the "purpose of art is to take an ice axe to the frozen human soul".
my seats for both shows were roughly the same - 4th row, close to center. at humphrey's i paid for a room i didn't use and a dinner i didn't eat to be able to buy the best seats i could get and drove 100 miles to san diego for a 3 hour show then turned around and drove home.
there was a difference between the two shows - i happened to like the san diego show better, but i certainly left the l.a. show really happy that i got to see todd. i had nothing to compare it too - but i felt that i had witnessed one of the best songwriters / composers working within the art form i like the best doing the songs he wanted to do in the manner he wanted to do them. (i did wish he would have given "hello it's me" a serious treatment - it's a masterpiece - but i've played around with tunes too, and figured he was entertaining himself. i did pay to see him do what he wanted. and in so doing, give the audience of old and new listeners a chance to resonate against the music he created for us in the moment). maybe his voice sucked for some of you - but i've heard a few singers in my day and i just kept wondering where he got the voicings and the phrasings and knew that i had to get to san diego the next night to see him again.
the san diego show, for me, was a notch or two higher. and after paying about $400.00 for the evening i drove home to l.a. afterwards thinking "it was worth every penny". i just couldn't figure out what everyone was complaining about. i've loved (& played my own version of) "hide your love away" for a long time and todd's arrangement & performance brought tears. and i have to disagree with some of the posters here and on jj's yahoo groups site - the sequence of "wmggw" & "black mariah" was perfectly chosen. (i really enjoyed joe's improvised piano the last time through "black mariah" at the san diego show).
so here's my 2 cents: if live music is experienced as expecting the artist to re-create some cathartic moment he or she gave us some other place or some other time - then it's being used artificially. it's a new moment - each time out, each tour and each show within a tour - the performer and listener are in new places.
maybe it's a real time rorschach test of the soul - and maybe some of the audience failed. i saw brilliance and i saw beauty and i thought about how much richer i was for the experience. it's not the performers job to make the audience forget that they are 10 or 20 years older and to dissociate them from the unsatisfactory life they've built for themselves.
and i loved the version of "afterlife" - i didn't think it suffered at all being done as an acoustic guitar piece. i mean, holy sh** . . . have you ever heard pete townshend do "won't get fooled again" on his acoustic rickenbacker??? yeah, it's different than when moon and entwhistle & daltry added their parts - but it has it's own strength and power and in some ways it is more transcendent when he does it alone.
the ukelele made me think about george harrison - i don't know if he and todd shared some experience there . . . but with the hawaii connection - who knows?
thanks joe & todd & ethel (were they having fun and adding to the event or what!!!???). it was brilliant, it was real, i hope you are enjoying the tour immensely . . . next time - bring pete along. ( / verbal kent).