Round III - My Continuing Adventures As A S.F. Rock Journalist
In this issue:
An interview with Kathy Valentine from the GO-GOs!
A review of the new GO-GOs CD "GOD BLESS THE GO-GOs" !!
A concert review of LIVING COLOUR on May 12 at SLIMS, SF!!
A review of the new DAVE MATTHEWS BAND CD, "EVERYDAY" !!
A concert review of DAVE MATTHEWS BAND & MACY GRAY on May 18 at PAC BELL PARK, SF!!
A concert review of DIDO & TRAVIS on June 13 (Gene Mahoneys birthday!) at SHORELINE AMPHITHEATER !!
And more amusing anecdotes about my "Almost Famous" ness !!
Okay, so the lines between my ridiculous, I mean, entertaining life and the niche I have carved out for myself as a "serious music journalist" have sufficiently intertwined and blurred as to make it impossible to write two separate columns this month. Actually, theres just too damn much to write about - and the other columnists (and the illustrious editor/publisher of this little newsrag) would not be amused if I attempted to take up the entire issue with MY stuff. I AM a part of this dysfunctional literary family, I know my place on the totem pole (at the bottom)! So without further ado .
"God Bless You, You GO-GO Girl!!!"
An interview with Kathy Valentine of the GO-GOs May 9th
Last Wednesday did not start off to be a good day. The ACADEMY OF COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS were going to be broadcast live from LA that night, and my former country demo singer, Jamie ONeal, was up for "Best New Artist" and "Single Of The Year" . Where were MY songs on her record that she supposedly LOVED when she sang them?? I mean, Im glad for her and all, but GEEZ !!! Needless to say, I was not up for the "Happiest Camper" award Luckily, at around 3PM, I got the call from The GO-GOs management company to do this interview with them at their in-store appearance at the WHEREHOUSE in Colma, and had to snap out of it and get the hell down there! The illustrious publisher of this little newsrag, Gene Mahoney, met me down there at 5PM, shirking his newspaper delivery boy duties because he is such a fan. I was told to ask for their road manager, Jim Silva. A seasoned road warrior with white hair and a beard approached us and I knew it must be our man. "Youll get to speak with Kathy Valentine, the bass player, " he told us in a gravelly voice as he lit a cigarette, "but dont take too long, because we gotta catch a plane back to LA as soon as this thing is over." When I asked Jim how long hed been with the GO-GOs, he said, "Three days."
Gene asked him how it was going and he said, "Fine, for three days." We laughed and asked him who the last band he worked with was and he said, "Iron Maiden. And before that, Judas Priest. I still work with Rob Halford." "Wow, thats a stretch!!", I exclaimed, and he said, "I could care less. Im not in it for the music, Im in it for the other M. All I need to know is who, what, where and when. Okay, its time, lets go !" You dont mess around with Jim! He led us through the store, where a large crowd was waiting in line to get their copy of the new GO-GOs CD autographed, while it played over the sound system, to a room in the back where the girls were putting on their makeup. We gave him a copy of the Herald and thanked him. Belinda Carlisle ( lead singer and soon to be PLAYBOY CENTERFOLD so she can prove you "dont have to be a size zero and 20 yrs old to be a sexually viable woman" - I heard this on "Good Morning America" and "Rosie ODonnell"), Jane Weidlin (rhythm guitar), and Charlotte Caffey (lead guitar) were deep in beauty preparation and I didnt want to disturb them (although Gene thinks Jane Weidlin might have been checking him out and has told, like, 9000 people and Im sure will include it in his Society Page). Gina Schock (drummer) wandered in, then Kathy Valentine, and we waited for our girl to finish and join us and have a chat (while Gene obsessed over whether or not they could hear us discussing them)
Kathy was directed toward us, looking a bit confused, wearing low slung black pants and a black sheer blouse over a pink mid-drift top with matching pink lipstick. Her hair, now jet black, has grown out and she had it pulled back in a ponytail and looked very pretty. Gene thought she looked the best out of all of them and I had to agree. Here is what the friendly, intelligent, confident and gracious musician/songwriter Ms. Valentine had to say once she figured out who the hell we were
Kathy Valentine : Oh, I thought this was going to be one of these phone things, great, I like this better!
(We have nowhere to sit, so Kathy gets me a chair - what a gal - and Gene opts to kneel on the floor, like Sir Galahad.) What are your names?
Gene Mahoney : Uh, Gene.
Kimberlye "Almost Famous" Gold: Gene Mahoney and Kimberlye Gold. (somebody squeals in the background really loud for us, Im sure) Here are copies of the paper, were not a normal, daily paper, were one of those weird, underground papers where we swear and everything. So, weve got ten minutes to find out everything youve done in the last ten years! Give us a heads up about what youve been up to.
KV: About me personally?
KG : Yeah!
KV: (Sounding genuinely surprised and pleased) Oh!
KG: And then well talk about the band too, but have YOU been playing, what have you been doing?
KV: Oh yeah, I have a band called The Delphines that I play guitar in and weve been together since 95 and I had a band before that and Ive just played in band after band. Im a musician, foremost and primarily. Thats what I do.
KG: And writing?
KV: Writing, and Im a producer of some mobile stuff, I worked at this college. I started working toward a degree in ancient history.
KV: Ive done a lot of traveling, Egypt and Turkey, Im really interested in history and Ive been enjoying my life a whole lot! The Go-Gos come along every now and then with tours and Ive always made time for that and this last couple years we decided to make a record and Ive had to put a lot of minor things on the back burner and just focus on this record.
KG: Tell us about The Delphines. I think Ive heard of them.
GM: (a voice from the floor) What does your band sound like?
KV: A really cool band, I love it! Yeah, we have a record coming out in September, on Conspiracy Records. Its our second record, three piece, girls Kind of like Blondie meets Cream meets Suzi Quatro, I call it "glitter blues". Im from Texas and it really shows off my guitar roots. Like ZZ Top and Jimmie Vaughn and all that stuff.
GM: Send it to us and well review it.
KV: Thatd be great! Cause we want to get back up here and play, I think wed do really good.
KG: Are you the primary writer?
KV: No, me and the singer. Its really balancing for me, when I have time off from The Go-Gos, I make sure to keep things going. I feel really lucky, because in the GO-GOs, I get to be in a band the way everyone dreams of, where its big and you get to travel first class and meet people and stay in hotels and have great opportunities..
KG: The rock star thing!
KV: And then, when I go home, I get to just be a musician and put my amp in the trunk and go play at the local clubs and I love that too, I like that just as much! So as far as being a musician goes, Im probably one of the luckiest ones in the world!
KG: Im a musician too (here I go!) and Ive been doing it my whole life as well and I totally relate. You have to keep doing it.
KV: Yeah, oh yeah, its what Im about , its all Ive ever wanted to do
Okay, Kathy, we dig ya, but what about this little big band, The GO-GOs?We gotta ask
KG: Have you stayed in contact with the other girls the whole time?
KV: Oh, The GO-GOs? Through the whole 90s?
KG: Yeah, like did you write together and stuff? You must have needed a break for awhile.
KV: Well, I didnt write with anybody until 95 for a retrospective and I wrote with Charlotte and Jane.
(Who, by the way, I can hear very loud in the background Jane, Im trying to conduct an interview here - keep her quiet, Gene, shes your girlfriend!)
KV: It was fun when we started writing for this record because we all had a lot of experience, confidence, it was just very in tact, as far as our egos (were concerned). If somebody didnt like something Id written, its not like, "Ahhhuuggghh!", I mean, I know Im a good writer, and if something didnt work for the GO-GOs, thats all it is.
KG: Nothing personal, right?
KV: Yeah, exactly, and everyone is more like that now.
KG: How did you like working with Jill Sobule (who co-wrote the song, "Daisy Chain" on the new CD)? Im a fan of her music. (and have several "Almost Famous" connections to see future installments )
KV: Well, Im a fan, but a lot of times I work better on my own and Jane brought me the song that she and Jill had written and wanted to know if I thought it would be good for the band and I loved it immediately, and said Id like to change the lyrical content and make it about the GO-GOs.
KG: Oh wow, thats interesting, because when I heard it, I said "Oh my God, its auto-biographical, what a cool idea!
KV: Yeah, I wrote a couple verses and changed a couple of chords around and Jane loved it and she and Jill were really happy. So I never actually sat down with them, I just got to put a stamp on it and I think it turned out really good.
KG: Its fun to get something presented to you and you can tweak it to make it work.
KV: We did that a lot, we just wanted the best material, we didnt care if it was from ten years ago. Like for "LA LA Land", Charlotte had the title and I had this verse that I had written a long time ago that I had never used, but I always thought it sounded very "Go-Gos." Every time I would write something like that, I would put it aside. I brought a lot of stuff in that way and everybody was like, "Thats cool!"
KG: How did you like working with the guitar player from Lenny Kravitzs band? (Craig Ross, who co-wrote "Vision Of Nowness")
KV: Oh, hes one of my best friends. We work a lot together.
KG: The bass player from Lenny Kravitzs band
KV: Jack Daley!
KG: Yep, his brother Frank was the guitar player in two of my bands in N.Y. (Life On Mars and Carnival Of Souls)
KV: Oh yeah? Theyre quite the N.Y. session guys! Craig was my roommate for five years and Im the one that got him the gig with Lenny.
KG: No kidding! Good for you!
KV: Well, it was easy, he was cut out for it. I said, "Thats your gig, we gotta figure this out!" We went to shoot pool one day and Lenny was there! A long time ago before he had a record deal, he was hanging around the studio when the GO-GOs were recording "Vacation", so I went up to him and said, "Im Kathy from the GO-GOs and I dont know if you remember me.." and he hugged me and said, "Of course, I remember you, you were always so cool to me!" I told him, "Ive got a friend and he IS your guitar player!" He said, "Ive already got a guitar player" and I told him, no, he HAD to meet Craig
Someone who HELPS her talented friends can we clone this girl???
KG: Awwww!! And Lenny has been so loyal to his band.
KV: Craig has been his guitar player ever since! So thats how we collaborated, I was just visiting him.
KG: "Vision Of Nowness" is such a fun song, its about Sammy Davis Jr.??
KV: We wrote it about Belinda, what he thought when he saw her, how people might view her when they see her.
KG: What a nice tribute.
KV: All I need is a concept, then its easy to write the lyrics.
GM: Were you writing songs with Terri Nunn from Berlin, or was it Jane?
KV: Charlotte did.
GM: I interviewed her a few issues ago. (and still believes HES the man for her! K.G.-)
KV: Charlottes got some songs on the new Berlin record. We did a tour with her summer before last, she was SO nice!
Okay, heres a fun fact to know and tell betcha didnt know
KG: How did you hook up with your new record label BEYOND MUSIC?
KV: Its kind of incestuous. BEYOND was behind the Blondie comeback, the hit record "Maria" and all that, and Clem Burke, the drummer from Blondie, is my housemate. We share the same phone and I kind of got to watch for, like, four years, this whole thing happen. It was almost like getting to audition a manager, and I was really impressed with them. So when the GO-GOs started talking about doing stuff and who was gonna get this together, I said, "Hey, you guys, BEYOND and LEFT BANK Mgt. did everything they said they were gonna do." One time, they called for Clem and I just set up a meeting with The GO-GOs. I didnt force anything, we met with some other people too, but this just worked out.
KG: Is that how you hooked up with Jill Sobule? (whos on BEYOND MUSIC)
KV: No, Charlotte and Jane used to go once or twice a year to this writing thing in Europe
GM: Miles Copeland?
KV: Yeah, they met a lot of writers and wrote tons of songs and raved about it and Im pretty sure thats how they met Jewel. I mean, Jill, Jill!
KG and GM: Ha, ha!!
KG: Slip of the tongue!
GM: Ill say! What do you think of the way music has gone in the 90s? Any new acts you like?
KV: Im real song oriented more than group oriented. A lot of stuff I get into after its been out a long time, I dont listen to the radio much and I dont ever watch MTV, so the buzz might be gone by the time I hear it. I recently heard Gomez and The Queens of The Stone Age I liked them a lot.
KG: I dont even know them!
GM: Ill name some women, Ani DiFranco, The Donnas?
KV: To be honest, I really champion what they do as artists, I think their vibe is really cool, but musically I dont connect with it that much .Im more into what theyre about, but its not a record Id choose to buy. You know, I get really sick of womens voices, I do! Im kind of a hard sell, because about six years ago, I started getting into jazz and it ruined me! Miles Davis, Coltrane, I mean, I love pop but jazz moves me emotionally in ways that a lot of other music doesnt.
Jane Weidlin: (from across the room) KV!
JW: We need to start!Our GO-GO girl, gracious to the end, turns back to us, and asks
KV: (sincerely) Is that enough?
GM: Thank you very much.
I told Gene to go amuse Jane for a moment, and I pulled Kathy aside, took her hand and told her shed had an impact on me years ago and it was wonderful to get to see her doing so well again. She shook my hand , thanked me warmly, and I was reminded that there ARE genuinely COOL people in this business .
Back into "Almost Famous" hell
Later that week, Gene bought a cassette of "Beauty And The Beat" ( the GO-GOs million selling debut album from 1981) so we could wax nostalgic over the past. Little did he know that the producer of that record, Richard Gottherer, (who also produced the very first Blondie record, by the way) was someone else from MY "Almost Famous" past, and when I looked at the J-card and saw his name, it all came disgustingly back to me. Spring of 1995, I was living in NYC, temping at the WEA labels (Warner Bros., Elektra, Atlantic) and playing my music at the local clubs, in the subway and in both Central and Washington Square Parks. One day when I was working at Elektra, Richard Gottherer, who was producing a band called Better Than Ezra, called the label executive I was working for. I recognized his name, and saw that the pre-fix of his phone number was the same as mine.
That meant he lived in my neighborhood on the Upper West Side of Manhattan! So I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to do something I NEVER did and knew better (than Ezra) NOT to do: I copied the number down and stuck it in my wallet. That night, when I got home, I called the number and got an answering machine, and left this message: "Hi Mr. Gottherer, you dont know me, my name is Kimberlye Gold and Im a singer/songwriter who lives in your neighborhood, and before you call the cops, I just want to say that I think you are god of pop producers and I would be so thrilled if you would listen to my music, my number is " and hung up. HE CALLED BACK in, like, an HOUR and laughed and said hed be delighted to listen, gave me his HOME ADDRESS, and told me to drop off a tape with the doorman!!! The next afternoon, en route to Central Park, guitar on my back, I brought a package, complete with a tape, a flyer for my next gig and every conceivable way to reach me and gave it to the doorman of his building, who winked at me and said, "Good luck, honey."
A few days later I was away from my desk at my temp. job at Atlantic Records, and when I came back, I had a message that Richard Gottherer had called, he and his engineer, Jeffrey Lester would be coming to my show that night, and to put them on the list (why I was never busted for this extremely inappropriate behavior remains a mystery). This was unbelievable. Richard Gottherer, producer of the GO-GOs and Blondie, had listened to my tape and was coming to hear ME play. It was at a strange little club in the Village called JANES, where you had to go down this long flight of stairs and I had never played there before. Well, Richard and his engineer showed up and it was one of the worst gigs in my life!! The sound system blew out, and no one could figure out how to fix it!! But it was a little, tiny place and knowing the show must go on, I proceeded to do the whole set without a PA, with just my acoustic lead guitar player (a young rocker named Tristan who toured with The Turtles!) and my background singer, David Baker (who is now in The New Mamas and Papas!) and we actually pulled it off!
Richard and his engineer sat in the back and seemed to be enjoying the hell out of themselves Richard kept playing "air instruments" during the songs: drums, guitar, piano conducting, as if he was Leonard Bernstein and I was the New York Philharmonic, and whispering things to Jeffrey, like he was envisioning all the parts. I was watching this legendary man produce my record while I was on stage giving it my all: there just arent words to describe what this felt like. After the set, he chatted with a well- known studio owner I had recently met that he knew, who had also, miraculously shown up to watch this almost-disaster, so it looked like there was a "buzz" about me. Plus it turned out Richard had worked with my background singer on some project, so it could not have been a cooler vibe!!
Everybody was bonding! Suck-ass sound system aside, which Richard and Co. claimed didnt phase them, I was a hit and Richard and Jeffrey both shook my hand, said they were very impressed and had a lot of ideas and I would be hearing from them.They liked me, they really liked me! I was IN this HAD to be it!! The next day, I dropped off a thank you card for Richard and a nice, potted plant with my buddy, the doorman, and when I didnt hear anything after a week or two, I called and left a message thanking him again. A few weeks later, the same thing, " know you must be busy, just checking in, hope youre doing well, blah, blah, blah"
I NEVER HEARD FROM RICHARD GOTTHERER AGAIN!!!!!
When Gene heard this story, he said, "Wow! That really SUCKS!!!! You have to write about it!! Undaunted, today I looked for and found the datebook from 1995 that had Richard Gottherers phone number and just called it! I spoke to a very nice woman (his wife, probably) who, after a brief explanation of who I was and why I was calling, just gave me his office number. I called and he answered and after I said, "Hi Richard, I dont know if you remember me, but you came and heard me play a few years ago, and now I write for a paper called the San Francisco Herald and I just interviewed Kathy Valentine from the GO-GOs, and it made me think of you, so I found your number and I just wanted to say hello." He said, " Yes, I DO remember you. You played that little club where you had to go downstairs in the Village on Avenue A next to Two Boots Pizza! Its not there anymore. You must have made some impression on me I cant believe I remember that!" (So, uh, dude - why the hell did you never call me back????) "Wow!" he continued, you know its funny, I just saw The Go-Gos on Rosie ODonnell and I was going to e-mail Kathy to wish them well!" (Guess I "Beauty and the Beat" ya to the punch, huh, Richie!) He could not have been nicer, though so I had to take the high road and ask him what hes been up to. Turns out hes got one of the largest and most successful internet and multi-level media marketing distribution companies for independent, unsigned music called THE ORCHARD. You can check it out on www.theorchard.com I have to find out more about it when Im not under deadline pressure for this little newsrag Im so devoted to. It looks intriguing though and meanwhile, I guess Ill send Richard Gottherer a new CD. (I wont hold my breath, though). The "Beauty and the Beat" goes on .
Comeback, Baby, Comeback!!!!
A review of the new GO-GOs CD "GOD BLESS THE GO-GOS"
And what a comeback it is! Talk about redemption! Thats what one listen to the new CD from the premier girl-group of the Eighties will do: make you want to come back for more, more, more! One listen and you just gotta hear it again, two, and each song is instantly recognizable, and by the third spin you are HOOKED, line and sinker! This is pure pop for now people, and these now forty-something women have matured in all the right ways while maintaining that girlish exuberance that made their earlier hit records twenty-some years ago, like 1981s double platinum debut "Beauty And The Beat" and their golden sophomore effort "Vacation" so darn irresistible. After trying out a couple "reunion tours" and a foray back into the studio to cut a few new songs in the mid-nineties, the GO-GOs have, for all intents and purposes, fully mended what seemed like irreparable breaks in their personal and professional "Daisy Chain" ( which is the title of the touching, anthem-like ballad that closes this new CD) and have come up with the perfect solution to bridge the gap between teen angst and mid-life crisis and beyond. Enlisting the aid of producers Paul Kolderie and Sean Slade (Holes "Live Through This" and Radioheads "The Bend's"), the result is a genuine pop masterpiece, each song layered with undeniably catchy, crunchy guitar hooks, punchy background vocal parts and simple, yet deceptively fine-tuned attention paid to each perfectly mixed instrumental track, managing to bring our girls into the millennium without sacrificing one iota of the fun and energy that got them here in the first place.
They have worked some kind of magic with Belinda Carlisles voice, making her sound almost like Suzannah Hoffs from The Bangles (who co-wrote the bad-boy alert song "Talking Myself Down" If Im hesitating in this room so close to you/Im someone with a weakness for the damage that you do) while still maintaining all the cool and unique quirks of her vocal style that make her so much fun to listen to. Note to Belinda (who I just saw on both "Good Morning America" and "Rosie ODonnell" and have seen live over the years) Please lock yourself in a room for an hour a day and sing along with this CD, or work with a vocal coach, or practice scales, or SOMETHING, for Gods sakes!! You wear ear monitors now, and you have no excuse to be so careless about your pitch and phrasing live, girl!! You can do it I have faith in you!! Note to Jane: You should record another solo record!! But the real stars of this record are the SONGS - collaborating with a bevy of talented outside writers like Green Days Billie Joe Armstrong, (who is featured on their first infectiously fuck-you single, "Unforgiven" - My thanksgiving came the day I saw it was okay to unforgive you/ and Jill Sobule ( the afore-mentioned "Daisy Chain" /Flowers bloom/they fade too soon/ what happened to our daisy chain/), and writing together in various combinations amongst themselves, the GO-GOs have delivered one of the best pop records in YEARS!
Lyrically, there is some pretty deep soul searching and healing going on, like "Apology" /I live, I work, I hope, I wait/I still have faith/that what was mine can still be mine/ and the almost Debbie Gibson sounding beautiful ballad, complete with a string arrangement, "Here You Are" - If you lose control and burn a bridge too far/no matter where you go/here you are/. Its obvious these are grown-ups who have worked some things out in all arenas. Theyve even thrown in a positive body-image message in "Throw Me a Curve" - Clothes hanger lollypop/magazine photo op/Id rather be a pin-up girl than zero size/ (which is another ode to Belindas PLAYBOY modeling, certainly). Some are laced with some bitterness and disappointment, like "Automatic Rainy Day" Hang around for a repeat of history/Falling down in the hole you dug for me/ (which owes more than a small debt to The Bangles cover of Simon & Garfunkles "Hazy Shade Of Winter" and Garbages "Im Only Happy When It Rains" - not that theres anything wrong with that) and "Insincere", - Your heart is a gravity well/It drew me in I fell/ which got a similar treatment in Jann Ardens "Insensitive" a few years back. Others, like "Sonic Superslide" - We are solar sisters here to make you shine/, "Stuck In My Car" - Stuck in my car/tryin to get to you/stuck in my car/nothin I can do/ and "Vision of Nowness" - Im your curiosity/Notorious/youll never get what you see/ are just sheer, guilty pleasure, out n out fun, baby! But no matter what the subject matter, anyone with a taste for ear candy will be so swept away to pop heaven by the execution of these illegally addictive melodies that they may never come back down. Amen to that. God bless the GO-GOs, indeed.
STILL COLOURING OUTSIDE THE LINES
LIVING COLOUR - May 12 at SLIMS, SF
Its been a good decade and change since Living Colour slammed through the color, genre and sound barriers imposed by MTV in 1989 with their politically charged break-through hit and video, "Cult Of Personality". Led by guitar virtuoso Vernon Reid and fronted by intense and emotional vocalist Corey Glover, this NY based African American band fiercely morphed a combination of punk- tinged heavy rock, jazz-fusion and funk and defied being labeled by any faction of the music industry. Given the sold-out crowd of mostly white, thirty-something but definitely still some mixed race and age rock fans, it was clear that despite not having a genuine hit since then, time had not mellowed their devotion. In the small space around me, I saw a twenty-something white guy with hair past his ass, holding his toddler daughter (it was after 11:00 pm!!), who was bopping up and down in his arms, raising her little arm with that "heavy-metal-indexand-pinky- finger" gesture in time to the music, while her Asian twenty-something mother watched. (I shudder to think what that kids hearing test is gonna read in a few years!)
To my right was this hip African American grandma-lookin woman in jeans and a Nubian hat, right behind me was this gay forty-something chubby male couple with their arms around each other sporting matching rock t-shirts, and right in front of me was a kid with a full on green spiked mohawk. THIS was truly a San Francisco audience! And the Living Colour this audience came to see had not been mellowed by time or lack of a record deal or anything else. They hit the stage with a vengeance which, unfortunately, is what I once again wanted to do the sound guy. Make no mistake, guitar player Vernon Reid is the driving force behind this machine and he makes sounds come out of his instrument that Im certain no other human has ever been able to replicate. But it is in the context of the mix of the solid funk n rock hard rhythm section of original drummer Will Calhoun, bass player since 1993 Doug Wimbish, and the savagely electrifying vocals of singer Corey Glover that make ME want to ride on their crazy train.
This sound guy had Vernon so loud in the mix from the get-go, after a couple of songs he began to sound like an annoyingly loud bee, Coreys vocals were practically buried, and the fact that Vernon and the drummer began taking long solos right at the top of the set that seemed to go on forever didnt help. Hearing songs like the caustic "Go Away" /I dont want anybody to touch me/I think everybody has AIDS/Whats the point of caring for you/ youre gonna die anyway/off their underappreciated third record from 94, "Stain" and the cool song, "Open Letter To a Landlord" /You can tear a building down/but you cant erase a memory/, from their debut album brought back memories of why I was a fan of this band, but this show, unfortunately, was not my favorite one of them.Corey kept barking phrases at the audience like "Didja get it??" over and over between songs and I wanted to yell back, "Uh, no!" But when the band finally came way down and Corey sang a ballad, sounding like an angel and rivaling any R & B crooner of any generation, I was reminded of the versatility and pure musicianship that is Living Colour. Like they chanted, "With the power of soul, anything is possible". Maybe theyll mix it up a bit more next time around.
THE SPACE BETWEEN (ignorance and bliss):
A crash course in the DAVE MATTHEWS BAND experience (by a self-confessed DMB rookie)
Featuring: A review of their new CD: "EVERYDAY"A review of their show with Macy Gray at the Concert Venue Opening of PACIFIC BELL PARK, SF - May 18
Okay, lets get one thing straight right at the beginning, shall we? Before my virgin journey into the vast wonderland of the Dave Matthews Band, I was not a wildly devoted fan (the only kind they seem to attract.) Nor did I harbor an intense dislike of them. They were just a band I have to admit I never paid much attention to. (Although I found an interesting anecdote to add: the office services guy in our office, Michael OConnor, grew up in Charlottesville, VA and used to go to parties in high school where Dave Matthews was in the band ! )I was aware they were popular, I kinda liked that " I eat too much/I drink too much " song, "Too Much", and a couple of others (that I couldnt have told you the names unless I looked in Billboard or on a CD) were pleasant enough on my car radio, I knew they had that reverse "Hootie and the Blowfish" line-up thing workin, with what I perceived to be a similar fan base, and that was pretty much it. So when I was presented with the assignment of discovering what all the hoopla associated with the DMB was all about, I decided to start with the brand new CD and go backward having absolutely no idea what I was in for. And I am here to tell you I am one of the unchosen : I remain in that "Space Between" DMB fanaticism and disdain. Please hold your attacks or applause until the end
"EVERYDAY" the new CD by The Dave Matthews Band
What an uproar this CD has caused, amongst DMB fans and music purists around the globe. Why? Because Dave (he is known to his fans as "Dave" like Letterman), known for his acoustic guitar playing abilities, discovered, horror of horrors, the devil electric! And even more horrifying, he chose to halt production of his fourth studio album with producer Steve Lilywhite and align himself with hit producer/songwriter Glen Ballard (Alanis Morrisette, No Doubt) - co-writing an album of catchy, hook-laden songs that only last around four minutes, instead of the extended jams he is famous for extending even further at his concerts!! Oh my God! Such blasphemy! Well, guess what? As a late stage arrival on the Dave Matthews Band-wagon, I have to admit I like this CD. Most importantly, after an extended crash-course trip down DMB memory lane, listening to 1996s "Crash" , their major- label debut from 1994, "Under The Table And Dreaming" and a live CD someone lent me, I like it much better than any of their previous efforts. Other critics have compared Daves voice to Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam, but I find Daves voice a cross between the singer from Counting Crows and the guy from Collective Soul ( the latter of which has much cuter guys in the band, sorry DMB, but were talking marketing here, and Im just trying get educated).
Where the earlier CDs made nice background/driving/working around the house music, maybe because the songs meandered for so long, this new one made me sit up and take groove notice, from the first blam of that devil electric guitar into the opening song, "I Did It" , where his dissonant harmonies declare, Im mixing up a bunch of magic stuff. This concoction worked for me but I always prefer spicier fare. The rhythm section of drummer Carter Bruford and bass player Stefan Lessard seem to have drank from the same can of Jolt Cola, or maybe they listened to some of the afore mentioned Living Colour grooves. Oh yeah, there is a different producer at the helm this time, hes gotta have that funk - violinist Boyd Tinsley even raps mid-song (gimmicky, yeah, so what?) - proving there is such a thing as a black violin player in a white guys band - and the band is much better for it! "When The World Ends", a playful take on seduction during armegedon, could have been another one of those wandering, mellow jams, but smartly and quickly changes mood, tempo, and chord progression into a rockin bridge as our Dave growls, Im gonna rock you like a baby when the city falls/the passion rises up from the ashes/when the world ends/ and then goes back down into that low-key beginning, adding some new keyboard window dressing and saving a sax solo till the end dynamics, what a concept, and Im buyin it!
Applying the same methods to "The Space Between", Dave & Co. explore the imperfect gray area of life existing in the gap of black and white/The space between/ our wicked lies/ and where we hope to keep safe from pain/the space between wrong and right is where youll find me waiting for you/. The chanting type vocal and pulsing guitar in the verses of "Dreams of Our Fathers" is so darn catchy it almost doesnt matter that the obvious subject matter and accompanying chorus is a little pretentious you just wanna him to get back to that cool verse groove! "So Right" is just such a funky groove, and builds so delectably to the sentimental/Our love is so right/ I wouldnt waste a minute here tonight/ chorus, with Boyd Tinsleys violin hook tucked so tastefully in the mix, and Leroi Moore delivering such a perfectly placed and timed sax solo, you forgive him for tricking you into another silly love song. (Hey, it worked for Wings) "If I Had It All" totally annoyed me Dave whining about how he wouldnt have anything to write and sing about /If I were a king/if I had everything/if I had you and I could give you your dreams/if I were giant sized/on top of it all/what in the world would I sing for/if I had it all/ - like he doesnt, "Mr. Married to a great woman w/ a child on the way and youre totally successful and famous and youre not even a great looking guy" until I found myself singing the damn song just walking around and now its my favorite song on the record.
That Dave! I found "What You Are" and "Fool To Think" musically and lyrically overly dramatic, missing the mark on all fronts. "Angel" totally owes a debt to the Rolling Stones song, "You Cant Always Get What You Want", but when it gets to the soothing, lullaby-ish /Youll be my angel you/ part, it got me, the way nature and Dave and his boys intended. "Sleep To Dream Her" belongs in a musical or in one of their concerts (more on that later) not on my list of favorites. Speaking of favorites, I cant judge "Mother Father" impartially, because one of my hometown heroes, Carlos Santana, guests stars so beautifully on this track, and lifts it from what could have been another preachy, overdramatic song into a spiritual plea for all humanity. The closing song and title track, "Everyday", even with its gospel beginning, is a throwback to DMB of yore, a kind of anti-climactic sing-songy ditty, but by then, I had so thoroughly enjoyed so much preceding it, that I forgave Dave his trespasses and gladly went back to groove out to track #1 "I Did It". Yes, I did.
Preaching To The Converted Masses
Dave Matthews Band w/ Macy Gray Live at Pacific Bell Park, SF May 18, 2001
We were late. We completely missed the 1st opening act, Angelique Kidjo, and despite my insistence that Macy Grays CD, "On How Life Is" was my absolute favorite record of 2000 (Actually, I heard "I Try", when I was in London, Fall of 99 and flipped for her then) and I didnt want to miss a note of her set, we arrived about 4 or 5 songs into it. (Our illustrious publisher of this little newsrag, Gene Mahoney, has expressed sincere contrition and I have forgiven him.) Honestly, given the fact that she was not the headliner, that these were NOT her people in attendance and her funky- retro-groove- thang would translate much better in a club, or at least an indoor setting, as opposed to an outdoor baseball field that would eventually hold 35, 000 DMB fans, I was amazed how well she came across. She had a 14 piece, multi-racial "Sly And The Family Stone-esque" funkily clad and sounding back-up band with horns, keyboards, synth/programmers, 5 background singers and a kickin (not "kick-ass rockn roll" SF Weekly!) rhythm section, and this sound guy got it right! The lead and background vocals were right up front, sounding great, and I was happy to find my girl Macy in fine physical and vocal form (unlike her what appeared to be drugged out appearance on the Grammys a few months ago.) She played several songs off her debut album, gave them interesting little twists and band members room to stretch out and show off a bit. It was still light out and all the DMB people were still looking for their seats, but the many of the folks around us were definitely digging on Macys scene. Her new album comes out in Sept. and I, for one, can hardly wait.
Too soon the funky party train left the station (oh yeah, this was a Dave Matthews Band show) and the big question buzzing around us was "Would he play acoustic or electric guitar?" as if World Peace depended on the outcome. And the fans: a mix of surprisingly young and old, mostly, not suprisingly , white devotees all converging with "Grateful Dead" -like fervor for this rather non-descript, but undeniably superstar level band. Now a) even though I am a San Francisco native, I have never been a fan of, nor understood the intense devotion of fans for the Grateful Dead and b) I am not an aficionado of long, extended, self-indulgent jams, even though I know a lot of people, ( particularly Dead and DMB fans) are deeply into this sort of thing. Nothing would have pleased me more than to have Glen Ballard produce this concert, making these boys deliver a show similar to their latest CD "Everyday" that I enjoyed so much. But I knew this was wishful thinking on my part that was not what the fans who paid to sit in the bleachers came to hear - and prepared myself for the former. I was correct and the sold-out crowd of 35, 000 went wild for the 2 1/2 hours plus of a seamlessly delivered, flawlessly played, but uneventful, and to these pop ears, pretty one dimensional evening.
To answer the giant question you have certainly already read in the dailies, Dave (we will once again refer to him as "Dave") played his first 3 songs with his acoustic guitar, "41", from his 1996 album "Crash", (where the band already started jamming), "Satellite" from their debut album "Under The Table and Dreaming" , and "When The World Ends" off the above- reviewed "Everyday", where the big screens on either side of the stage used animated pictures of maps of the world, with the band superimposed on top of them, to accentuate and punch up the "exciting" part of the song and make it more exciting! I leaned over and remarked "The most exciting thing on stage is Boyd Tinsleys pants!" to my new friend I had just made on my left, a delightfully funny music critic from the San Jose Mercury News named Candace Murphy, who laughed, wrote something down, and devoted an entire paragraph to those pants in her review!! (Never say anything to a writer you dont want used somewhere else: especially if they come up with something more clever than even you might have! Props to Candace!
And props to violinist Boyd Tinsleys "Rhinestone-Cowboy" studded pants!) Dave, on the other hand, wore a grey/black T-shirt and baggy black jeans and looked like he was going to the market, but thats his "thing", his "anti -pin-up boy " appeal, I guess. The rest of the set, he alternated between electric and acoustic guitar, and I noted that the fans seemed to know all the words to the new songs as well as the old, so they couldnt be that anti-electric! Another fan observation: (hey, the real show was on the floor) what were all these 20-something, ambiguously gay children of Grateful Dead fans about?? Doing those weird, intense, modern dance moves that have nothing to do with the actual groove of the music (which there is plenty of) ??? They frighten me. (Must be those 20 minute jams during each song that inspire them to create "dance pieces".) Backed by the core DMB band: African American fashion maven Boyd Tinsley (violin) , grunge lookin Stephan Lessard (bass), and African Americans Carter Beauford (drums) and Leroi Moore (sax and flute), the band added a keyboard player and three African American female background singers to add even more color and authenticity (Id love to know if these women owned one DMB CD before they got this gig).
And the band played on: delivering letter perfect, if very extended, versions of older tunes like "Jimi Thing", "Monkey Man" , "Bartender" (what Davey used to be and still looks like, God bless him) and new ones like "So Right" and "The Space Between" with equal fervor. What set the night on fire for this San Francisco native and recent returnee, was a guest appearance by the currently ubiquitous Carlos Santana and his percussionist, Karl Perazzo (who apparently had sat in with the opening act we missed) and joined DMB for "Mother Father" , which Carlos Santana had added licks to on the new CD "Everyday" and stuck around for two more: "Love of My Life" and a wild cover of Bob Dylans "All Along The Watchtower". Since Dave and Carlos have guested on each others albums, this made the appearance even more of a poignant and, yes, exciting part of the show. Carlos Santana is another one of those guitar players whose sound many have tried to duplicate, but no one truly captures but the man himself. He is a welcome addition and honor to any musical experience. (Hell, hed even spice up a Suzanne Vega acoustic show!) We walked up the stairs to the top of the ballpark to get a look at the thing before it ended and as I gazed down over the masses of 35, 000 bodies swaying to the music, I was suddenly awestruck at the absolute idolatry this seemingly "ordinary guy with the nice songs and good band" had so utterly, completely commanded and I wasnt quite sure I "got" it. But it wasnt for me to understand reverence should be paid to those who can achieve it through the power of their music and talent - and whatever else got them and is keeping them there and believe me when I tell you, the Dave Matthews Band is at the top of that mountain. I was a witness. We should all be so blessed and so lucky.
And now a few "Almost Famous" moments to take us out
(to the ballgame? SOPRANOS style?)
The next night, to be a good daughter and sister, and to get away from anything resembling the music business, I took my mom and brother out to see the movie, "Bridget Jones Diary", about English people (or in Renee Zelweggers case, an actor from Texas playing a British person, very well, I might add) Now who do you think sung the opening song, a cover of Eric Carmen from the Raspberries, "All By Myself"???? Jamie ONeal, my country demo singer from Nashville who just won that Best New Artist award on the Academy Of Country Music Awards on National television!!!! I knew her voice in two notes, I mean I only hired her over half a dozen times to sing MY songs!!!!! And she sounded amazing!!! I gasped my brother told me to shut up. Was there ANY end to my torment, would it ever stop for ONE, JUST ONE STUPID SECOND, for the love of God???? My cell phone went off at the climax of the lovely film, (see, even I am annoying) and when I returned the call to my illustrious publisher and told him, he said, "God, it really is like a bad dream where you cant wake up. It does suck! Maybe you should just join a convent. But put it in your column!" Thanks, Gene. Then I went home and looked up her websites on Google.com, and there was "Bridget Jones Diary" listed among all her accolades of stardom! You go, Jamie ONeal, former demo singer of mine!! Hey, any of you out there wanna be famous? Work with me in some capacity!!!
So I concentrated on getting ready for our next "Truly SF Herald Event, at CIRCADIA, May 26, playing with my band, along with our own Lee Vilensky and his trio, and celebrating the fact that the SF Herald had just won "Best Neighborhood Newspaper" in the Best of 2001 issue of the SF Weekly!!! I had come home 6 months ago to take care of my family and in the process, had become part of something cool!! For once, doing the right thing had paid off!! And I got to show up at a function to celebrate it and play my music with a full band!! We rehearsed and it sounded just great, I was really excited. The night before, we had a rehearsal and I noticed my voice felt really hoarse, like it hadnt felt in years. Hey, Id been pulling off 3 sets, no sweat, in an Irish pub lately and what the hell was this about?? Well, I woke up the next morning and I HAD NO VOICE. None, nada, barely a squawk came out. I tried the entire day to get it back: steam, throat coat tea and honey, prayers to Jesus from my girlfriend from high school who is now an ordained minister, (and my real last name is "Goldberg") NOTHING WORKED!!!!!! So my wonderful band members threw a replacement band together (sans moi) and I had to doll up and sit there and write notes on the back of left over gig flyers!!!! Gene, who was hosting the event, even brought me up on stage and read a piece I quickly wrote about how I must have done something bad in a past life, or Suzanne Vegas fans had cursed me for saying her show was boring a couple issues ago and I was SORRY!!! As he kept saying over and over, "What are the odds?????" The night still was a success and thank you to all who attended.
Sunday, the day after, I could still barely make a sound (which to many might be considered a blessing, Im sure). It was also a year to the day that Irish actor Gabriel Byrne summoned me to his dressing room on Broadway in NY, after I had a song of mine sent to him, "Rope Of Faith" , which I had recorded Celtic in his honor and he wanted to meet me. He spent 45 minutes with me telling me how wonderful I was and he wanted me to send him more songs. (That's the "Readers Digest" condensed version) Of course I sent him more songs, as he requested - wrote him a couple heartfelt letters thanking him for taking time out of his busy schedule to spend time with me - and never heard from him again either!!!!! To commemorate this stupid occasion, the illustrious publisher of this little news-rag and I rented a movie called "Julia and Julia" from 1987, starring Kathleen Turner, Gabriel Byrne and Sting (!!!), my "Demolition Man" who bumped my song "A Place In Your Heart" out of the movie "Three Of Hearts" with his song "Shape Of My Heart" (Not "Fields Of Gold" as reported in the last issue). "Julia and Julia" was supposed to be this groundbreaking, very dark, erotic psychodrama - and well, it was ...HILARIOUS!!! And not intentionally!!!! Kind of like my life. Oh my God - we laughed hysterically (with and without sound) - and I realized that it's a lot more fun to hang out with a real live cool person who actually knows me and still wants to hang out with me - with or without sound - and someone I can make fun of my ridiculous past with - then waste time wishing one more big deal thing had turned out the way it looked like it was going to. You know what? There aren't any big deals - just a lot of moments you can choose how to live in. And I am writing for an award winning newspaper. You know what else? Maybe life doesn't suck so bad after all...
Not so fast, ladies and gentlemen
"I Want To Thank You"
For Giving Me Pleasant Music (on a day that really sucked!!!)
Dido/Travis/ Live at Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View on June 13 - (Gene Mahoneys Birthday!)
You know how
"Dateline NBC" always seems to begin: ‘"It was supposed
to be a perfect (fill in the blank)… — but then it became: ‘The
Thing That Went Horribly Wrong’ — I’m Stone Phillips."
Well, that would aptly describe my latest adventure in "concert review world for the SF Herald." Hi, I’m Kimberlye Gold, and I don’t just report the news, I report how much it sometimes sucks to report the news! All the juicy "behind the scenes" details that you won’t get in the SF Weekly or Rolling Stone! Why? Because I can!
Wednesday, June 13th was supposed to have been a lovely way to kill two birds with one stone: review the Dido/Travis show at Shoreline Amphitheater and celebrate my illustrious publisher of this award- winning little newsrag’s birthday, who happens to be a Dido fan.
Between several e-mails to and from the media relations director at Shoreline, and many e-mails and phone conversations with Dido’s publicist at Arista Records in NY over a period of weeks, I couldn’t have gone to more lengths to make sure this went off without a hitch. Shoreline was supposed to have our tickets for us, and the charming publicist at Arista (who tried, in vain, to get us an interview, bless her heart) e-mailed and called me twice to confirm that she was supplying us with "Meet and Greet" passes and a photo pass that would occur at 4:30 pm before the 8:00 pm show time, and gave me a contact number for the tour manager, should we encounter any problems. She told me because Gene was such a fan and it was his birthday, she wanted to make sure he got a chance to meet Dido. What a gal! (Plus, she knew I wanted to say hi to Dido’s bass player, Keith Golden, who has sublet my NY apartment for years.) So Gene dashed across town to borrow our web designer, James Dylan’s $600.00 digital camera and took him out for a quick lunch, where he accidentally ingested a burrito with meat in it, got a $25.00 parking ticket, and ran a red light in his haste to pick me up. Certain he now had Mad Cow Disease and a $300 moving violation on the way as well. Poor baby!
But we left in plenty of time and traffic was light, so the journey with my paranoid birthday boy publisher began deceptively well. We arrived around 3:45 p.m. and when we tried to park, the BGP (Bill Graham Presents) parking people told us they knew nothing
about a 4:30pm "Meet and Greet" and I immediately called the tour manager, who said this local Arista rep. would meet us at will call to take us to the "Meet and Greet", as soon as we picked up our passes. When we got to will call, nobody behind any of the glass windows knew anything about a "Meet and Greet" for the press, or had passes or tickets for us, and the media relations director had not yet arrived. They told us to try the "Blue Door" (the business office) and they told us to go to "Gate 5". What was this, Alice In Wonderland? Lost In Space? The BGP girl at Gate 5 called the Dido production office and no one seemed to know what the hell was going on! And I couldn’t reach the tour manager or my friend Keith on their cell phones. Meanwhile, we could hear Dido sound checking. Finally, a new BGP guy called down there and said, "They said the "Meet and Greet" has been changed to "After Show" and you have to go back to will call and get the guy’s number to help you."
So we walked back down to will call and they gave us this Arista rep.’s cell number and I called it and got a voice mail, of course, leaving him a polite (but distraught) message, because we still had no tickets or passes waiting for us! They told us the show started at 7:45 p.m. By this time, it was after 5 p.m. and poor birthday boy Gene, having lost a whole deadline day in order to do this, and crazy from the heat and the "no meet ‘n greet", said, "Let’s get the hell outta here!"
So I took him out for sushi in downtown Mountain View to lift his spirits and while we were there, the local Arista rep. called me on my cell phone and casually told me that he was sorry for the confusion, sort of blamed everyone else involved, and said he would make sure our after-show passes and photo pass would be left with our tickets.
Before we went back to Shoreline, we parked in a business complex and drank a little red wine in plastic, jelly cups and listened to some of the new Go-Go’s CD to cheer ourselves up. God Bless the Go-Go’s!! Renewed, we walked back into the venue at 7:30 p.m. and went straight back to the "Blue Door" and were told we’d still have to wait for the media relations director, who was on "an important call". Another woman came out a few minutes later and said she was the MRD’s assistant and she would be with us shortly. Were we waiting for a meeting with President Bush? Queen Elizabeth? After another 10 or 15 minutes, while we were treated to some amplified karaoke (??) the head lady came out and gave us our tickets and told us no one had left our passes, seemed so annoyed with everyone else, and she was going to go and get them herself and bring them to us in our seats. She was supposed to have held our camera till after the show, because we only had clearance to shoot the after- show and they have a very strict policy, (being the White House and all) but I think she felt so bad about all we had been through, (and Gene looked like he was going to cry — or gun down the amphitheater) she let us keep the camera in my purse after I took an oath and signed in blood that I wouldn’t shoot (pictures) during the show. Kidding. Sort of.
So we set off to find our seats (and chase down our passes, literally) and got to hear the last two songs of the 1st opening act, Emiliana Torrini, a waify young singer who immediately reminded me of Bjork - on lithium. A mellow Bjork. Turns out she’s from Iceland, too. (Do I have ears or what?) Which is doubtful the several very-young children in the row in front of us will have if their late 20/early 30-something parents keep bringing them to very loud concerts without earplugs!!!! What’s wrong with people?? Call social services!!! Especially when the next band is the very entertaining, musically stimulating - and extremely LOUD — Travis — the young Scottish lads who have made such a splash in the UK and are finally getting some well deserved recognition here in the U S of A. Sounding like a cross between the Beatles and U2, wonderful lead singer and dynamic front boy Fran Healy — (sporting a kind of rooster/ mohawk hairdo) and his clan of merry men took the stage and delivered a high energy, dynamic, and very pleasing set of selections off their #1 UK 2nd album, The Man Who and their latest new effort, The Invisible Band. Before the song, "Pipe Dreams", off their new CD, Fran delivered an intro so earnest and sincere about how we should be thankful for our blessings, I was ready to propose marriage on the Scot, I mean, spot! But he could read the phone book with that adorable brogue and I’d probably have the same reaction. (But Fran, sweetie, we’ll need to do something about that hairstyle, luv!) To our right, was our friend from Don Henley’s last concert, Oakland Tribune music critic Jim Harrington, looking quite suave, fabulous and buff with his newly shaved head. Go Jim!
Back to Travis: The lovely "As You Are", off The Man Who, sounded very Crowded House, which is music to these ears. One thing I must point out immediately about Travis is that it’s hard to believe they are the same ethereal, easy listening, jingly-jangly pop band on their CD’s, because live, these lads are LOUD, and even though they do have a very nice dynamic range, when they come up, they ROCK! Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t think their style calls for that much volume. Sound guy or band — hard to tell. But Fran Healy really is a joy to watch and hear, with a pure, plaintive pop tenor and an utterly sincere delivery. I believe this kid! And so did the crowd of mostly young, mostly white fans. When the band got to their # 1 UK hit, "Why Does It Always Rain On Me" (our theme song for the day, apparently), it was obvious why these lads belong in a class above so much of the drek on alternative radio these days. With songs like the amazing, "Turn" (my personal favorite), the fact that they actually use a banjo on some parts (which is just too cool) and the standing ovation the audience gave them, I’m looking forward to seeing how high Travis can climb.
Next up was our girl of the night, the 29 year old English songstress, Dido. After wandering around in near obscurity after her debut album, No Angel was released back in ‘99, she has broken out into giant superstardom over the last year, due to the wildly successful white rap star Eminem, who sampled her song, "Thank You" (arguably the best song on the record) on his #1 song "Stan", having her join him on some high profile live TV appearances, like Saturday Night Live, and enabling her song to become a smash hit (and TV commercial) as well. The TV show "Roswell" also used her "Here With Me" as the theme song — very advantageous breaks for a fledging new kid on the block. And Dido seems to be wisely capitalizing on the obvious strengths and unbelievable success of her internationally #1 CD by delivering a live show that basically duplicates it. Unlike Travis, who, sound so different live, she and her band of very talented players, (including my buddy Keith "Bunny" Golden on bass, and my former upstairs neighbor who lived in the apt. I used to sublet in the same building as Keith in NY, drummer Alex Alexander) played every song of the set, competently and tastefully, note for note like the CD.
The stage was set for an exciting and electrifying performance, with the tight band playing an extended intro amidst smoke and lights — but that wasn’t quite the effect when Dido emerged from the shadows and took center stage. Dido has a very pleasant, ethereal, if somewhat derivative voice, reminiscent of Sarah MacLachlan and Delores O’Riordan from The Cranberries (without her annoying affectations and bad pitch) - in fact, playing it safe within the lines, Dido did not miss a note and her voice was strong and present. What was lacking, however, was any real star power stage presence. Dressed in a tight, shiny, powder-blue T-shirt that said "San Francisco", low slung black slacks and black tennis shoes, Dido appeared less diminutive than in her album photos, looking more like a reasonably attractive Jewel, without her guitar. And without an instrument to hide behind, it’s up to a star to command that stage.
sang very well, and moved from one side of the stage to the other, there just
wasn’t anything outstanding or truly memorable about her performance.
Perhaps, in time, she will develop that star quality and confidence with a few
more wildly successful albums under her low slung belt. Also missing, to my
dismay, were any background vocals, which were stacked so liberally and pleasingly
on her CD. Since there was so much sequencing used in the instrumentation, and
they had so many affects on her voice, why couldn’t they have used vocal
tracks, if they couldn’t afford or didn’t want to deal with live
singers? Why didn’t they call me?? Hey, just a thought…But the audience
adored their new pop princess, giving her a standing ovation when she walked
onstage! In addition to the seamless blend of all the songs off No Angel, Dido
offered up two new songs during her encores, one of which she played solo, accompanying
herself on piano. I would have preferred her to have taken us out with the pulsing
"Take My Hand" and saved the best, "Thank You" for last…
After the show (and over eight hours since we had arrived at Shoreline), we headed toward the VIP lounge with our "meet ‘n greet" passes stuck on our left legs and Gene with his photo pass stuck on his right to say hello to my pals from Dido’s band and to meet the lady herself. We had clearance to have that photo taken with her, as planned, which was now all Gene really cared about. I handed Gene the borrowed $600.00 digital camera that had rested in my bag and when he took the cap off and tried to adjust the settings…THE CAMERA DID NOT WORK!!!!! Oh my God — how in the HELL could it NOT WORK????? It worked earlier, before the show! It was the last straw for this birthday boy! I had never seen my illustrious publisher so upset — or so angry. "Give me your cell phone!" he snarled and called our web designer to try and figure it out, to no avail. "This is the worst birthday I’ve ever had in my whole life! I wish I was dead!" he growled to poor James on my cell, obviously working on his best "Robert DeNiro/Al Pacino/every over-the-top-academy award nominated actor" moment. Thanks, boss.
Meanwhile, my buddy Keith, Dido’s bass player, my NYC subletee’, and a big teddy bear, came out, saw me and gave me a giant bear hug. He had read all my articles off our www.sfherald.com website and had seen pictures of us, and he now exclaimed, "I wanna meet the dude from the picture!"
Uh oh — happy "Bunny" Golden wants to meet Mean Gene On The Scene. When he went to shake Gene’s hand, I guess he had just sneezed or wiped his nose, or something, and Gene wouldn’t shake his hand!! And he had this "If you come any closer, why, I’m gonna…." look on his face.
Oh my God, I thought I was gonna die. I had told Keith the Readers Digest version of what had happened to us and the camera not working and all, and all of a sudden Keith became "Deepak Chopra Spiritual Love Clown Man" and would not leave Gene alone until he snapped him out of it and won him over. "C’mon, man, I wiped my hand, shake my hand, man! Hey, let me give you a hug, show me some love! It’s all good!" Gene was starting to look like Travis — "Travis Bickle" from Taxi Driver. At the end of the movie. This was not good at all.
Undaunted, Keith rounded up some of the other band members, including my drummer pal, formerly long-haired and brunette Alex, who now has bleached blond hair — and more fun, like me — (except at this god-awful moment) and said, "C’mon, man, we gotta cheer this dude UP! We gotta give him a GROUP HUG!!" Then Keith went and got Dido’s tour manager, Dan Garnett (my cell phone buddy), and told him our tragic tale of woe. Our man, Dan, apologized for all that had happened earlier and took us back to meet Dido immediately. He even offered to track down a photographer, which he didn’t do and we didn’t pursue. It was too stupid at this point. But Dido was very cordial to us and we had a nice little chat, where we told her how much we enjoyed the show, and she complimented the audience on being "Lovely -responsive and quiet in all the right places!" Gene showed her his vast knowledge of London by asking her which stops she lived near on the Tube line (the English subway) and naming several of them. She asked him if he had studied a Tube map. I praised her on how well she handled Aidin Vazirri during her SF Chronicle interview, and told her he must have really been sweet on her, because he was nice. "I hope I wasn’t too mean — was I alright?"
We assured her she was perfect and bid our girl goodnight. Somewhat appeased, Gene followed me back out to hang with my boys and sat while we caught up on old NY times. We noticed one table with around 9,000 empty beer bottles on it, and Alex said, "That’s all from Travis." Those randy Scottish lads know how to party! Love Guru Keith actually brought a girl over to us who was also celebrating her birthday on June 13th! It was all good! On the way out to the parking lot, Gene whined, "We met Dido. We talked to the most successful pop singer in the world! And we didn’t get a picture to put in the paper. It’s like seeing Bigfoot! No one will believe me!"
So if you see Gene, please tell him you believe him. Thank you.
To read more by Ms. Gold, clicky here!