Measured Extravagance

16 November 2001 - 12:07 p.m.

Callie, staring at the container of boiled mung beans next to my computer: What is that? Science Diet?
Mechaieh: Meow.

Fan-girl notes, mainly for Natalieeeeeee:

Drove to the Sutler after choir practice, which got me there at around 9 p.m. The parking lot was already full but the only person outside of the club was JWH (or "Wes"), who was strolling around in a gray, heavy cotton, button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up, smoking. I gave him a "I hope this looks charming rather than dorky" smile and went on inside, where I paid the cover, ordered a Gerst Amber at the bar, cased the tables, and decided the best place for a woman alone was right at the bar, observing Wes visit with various friends around the room and watching the Louisville-East Carolina football game on the telly. Over the next ten minutes, more people filtered into the club, including two guys next to me comparing notes about sleep schedules, fishing, studio equipment and bourbon. Many of the people walking in the door were also local musicians - they'd catch sight of Gary (the guitarist next to me), grin, and come over to say "hi" - which is how there happened to be a cluster of people around me when Wes came over to chat with Gary.

Introductions all around - when Wes looked at me, I grinned sheepishly and said, "I'm just a random person here." He stuck out his hand: "Hello, Random Person. And what's your name?" "Peg, and I saw your last concert here." "Oh, super. This one's going to be even better, I promise." He was very upbeat - he'd had an excellent tour so far, and talked with Gary about hangovers and mutual acquaintances ( [said wryly] "you know someone's bad off when they're looking to me for comfort"...) and records on his to-listen stack and the "complimentary drinking cup" (that looked more like a finger cot) that came with the Advil he'd had to buy from a hotel vending machine at 6 a.m. because of a screaming headache... (see entry #4 in his road diary for the full anecdote)

One of the staff members asked him if the opening act (David Lewis, one of his co-writers) was ready. "Let's give him ten minutes" to warm up, he replied, finishing up with Gary and sauntering off to retrieve his videocamera. He introduced David and then prowled around the room with the camera during David's set. At one point, he leaned across me to whisper to Gary, "I told David to leave his cape at home..." [2] (David is a soft-spoken Englishman who wore an Oxford shirt and whose stage presence is so matter-of-fact he makes JWH look like David Lee Roth...)

The Beautiful Young Man had entered the bar while David Lewis was performing his second song ("Ramadan Moon"?), but since JWH was next to me with the camera, we just rubbed knuckles behind Wes' back, and he quietly sipped his Bass until JWH moved on and he could scoot his stool closer to me. David Lewis dryly observed that "I've been told that many of my songs seem to be about the weather" and proceeded to sing two more songs about rain to close his set, including "The Rain Stops Everything." (I think my favorite song of the set was "Jealousy's Antiques.") JWH and David then crouched by the side of the stage comparing notes (it's a small club - I had step around them to reach the ladies' room. If I were a real fan-girl I supposed I could have found some way of accidentally brushing against JWH - oh well, missed opportunities. *grin*).

After the break, Wes started his set by whanging out the opening to "Goth Girl" and then recoiling from the mike: "The monitor says this is really, really LOUD." There was some back and forth between him and the sound operator ("It's still really loud! It's set for David, he's much softer than I am...") before he settled into the song. Other songs in the set included "Sluts," "Humble Bee," "It Stays" (following a description of the working title and cover of his next album), "People Love to Watch You Die," "The Person You Are," "For An Actress (To Catherine Zeta Jones)" (song left off of the next album), "Same Thing Twice," "Sleeper, Awake" (Gary's request), "The Secret Angel," "Our Lady of the Highways" (encore) and "Here Comes the Groom" (encore). He extracted the finger cot - I mean, drinking cup - from his shirt pocket and ("even though I think I've already shown this to everyone in the room") proceeded to analyze the instructions that came with the cup. It was still funny the second time around (and the BYM hadn't been there the first time).

Robert Lloyd hopped onto the stage to play mandolin and accordion as needed, and David Lewis joined in on the encores. Wes didn't forget a single lyric this time (unlike the gig back in July, where he had a fairly bad case of Mandy Patinkin-itis) [1], but I have to say that it was a terribly tame crowd - it's not like they tested him (like the guy last time who kept calling out "Hitler's Tears"), and a number of people had cleared out even before the encores. I don't think it was JWH (he was definitely live - trying new arrangements with Robert, making line and lyric changes for a more energetic acoustic sound, etc.) so much as a general atmosphere of exhaustion: I got the sense that a number of people in the bar were out past their bedtimes. (JWH's set started around 10:30 and ended around 11:45.)

In any case, it was still a good way to wind up the evening (a nice balance to the "Ave Maria" and the two "O Magnum Mysterium"s the choir wrestled with during rehearsal), and the BYM enjoyed the show (much to my relief - I still feel a bit guilty about subjecting him to Tommy Womack's KISS tribute a couple of weeks ago). I caught sight of a couple of interesting listings for tonight, but I've promised myself to stay home, cook the groceries I bought a few days ago (a lamb chop and some yellow squash) and write. We'll see how it goes...

[1] I actually don't know if Mandy Patinkin habitually forgets lyrics, but there was a concert in Detroit some years ago where he spaced out fairly dramatically (and entertainingly) on a couple of numbers, so I tend to recall MP whenever I witness another performer getting their words tangled up. Not that I'm unsympathetic: I did the same thing myself while caroling random songs to the walls of Dichroic's living room....
[2] 11/18 update: It turns out I misheard this. Per JWH's email, "What I actually said was: 'I taught David his capo placement' as a joke."

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