When it happens, it's magic. . . to quote Todd (from 'The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect' video, "There's a compression of consciousness" that happens. Each musician, in the worship of each song, seems to effortlessly hit all the right pitches, the right syncopated beats, the right emotional tones, to allow each song to live. . . for a few moments, and be as good as it can be. That's what's going on with The New Cars. I've seen it with my own eyes. I've heard it with my own ears. Tonight.
I haven't seen this level of precision, in service to the song, in a decade or more; and as each musician kicks their own contribution up a notch, the others are challenged to follow. I can see why Todd is so "into" this project. . . it's easy to see, when you've seen the problems on many of the other joint ventures he's assisted over the years. . . A Walk Down Abbey Road, Ringo's All Starrs. . . it's one thing to put a bunch of talented musicians together and have them play -- it's quite another thing when the SONGS are the point of it all. It COULD have been that way on AWDAR, but sadly the magic didn't happen. But it IS going on with The New Cars.
Now don't get me wrong. . . I'm not saying that the Cars songs are some kind of songwriting gold, but they WERE major hits of the decade, setting the tone for the lives of quiet desperation that many of us were living at the time. The songs cannot now be separated from their effects upon each of us at the time they were radio's favorite flavor. At the time that "All Mixed Up" came out, I was exACTly that. . . in 1978 I was embroiled in my third marriage, and it wasn't going well at all. The lyrics to this tune almost exACTly mirror my feelings toward that woman. I cannot now disassociate the song from the experience, and it colors my enjoyment of the song. This was a MAJOR part of my life. It's over now, and I'm glad it's gone, but it's still in my memories, for better or for worse, and. . . my life experiences deserve songs that can help me revel in the fact that, hey. . . I SURVIVED that!! Sloppy performances won't do it. But The New Cars DID it. That's what I mean by "In Worship Of The Song".
Todd's voice was dead-on all night, his inflection and intonation, his emotional pitch, exactly where it needed to be. Kasim's vocal delivery on "Drive" and "All Mixed Up" was perfect. Drive in Reno was so much better than on the "It's Alive" CD. Kasim and Todd have reached out and made this material their own.
All the arrangements ran like well-oiled machines, great starts, killer endings, nothing sloppy at all.
Those critics who feel that their job is not done until they find something to complain about should just sit down, "in the moment", and involve themselves in what's happening NOW. This show is JUST FINE.
I ran into Michele after the show. . . she and Randy were here. Michele said (with no urging from me) that Black Maria by these guys is the best it's ever been. I agree. It's blistering hot, and technically perfect.