DAR Constitution Hall, D.C.
Cash only bars at one of the bigger venues in the nation’s capital? Things, then did not get off to a good start.
RT opened, and boy did he. Great acoustics in the room, and a fantastic set up. A whistle stop tour round his canon, and well received by the audience, many of whom were “who’s that old dude?” (A friend of mine as in the venue, and in a none-more-civilian moment between acts asked who it was. ‘Richard Thompson, philistine’ was well received by her. My GF, not so much. She also thought he had a great voice)
The Glen Hansard. Now, I only went to see RT. My bidey-in saw ‘Once’ on Boradway loved it, and therefore wanted to see Hansard. I should have loved it, and yet…
Musically, almost perfect. My only gripe would be the three strings being drowned out by the horns at times. But he’s high energy, and got the crowd on side and generating energy in an otherwise staid venue. He’s a got a great voice that can move between hoarse shouting and some really sweet vocal control. He can also play instruments.
So what went wrong? Well, the crowd (see more below). Every song had a story. Every. Sodding. Song. And many had Churchill-size biographies to be told. And he clearly has some trouble letting go. A number of tracks could (and to my mind, should) have been killed three minutes earlier than they were. Overkill can diminish how much you like a track.
He also did some covers. The Van Morrison Astral Weeks was good. He absolutely fucking butchered the 2/3 of Northern Sky that he played, missing the careful arrangement that made that track so special. And you remember that scene in Yes Minister where Humphrey explains to Jim what ‘brave’ really means? Well, it takes a brave man to attempt to cover Who Knows Where the Time goes, even if he is accompanied by RT.
Some folk were there just for RT – middle aged or older, graying, balding, well to do. And a number of them left.
The crowd were…well, let’s just say that I sometimes wish I were Judge Dredd with the power of summary execution. I wished that really strongly on Saturday.
Lights going off every where. iPad, iPhone, flashlights… And the noise? You know something, when someone’s trying (and kudos to him for doing so) to reach the full size of the Constitution Hall without a microphone, and doing so rather well, please STFU. Stop talking loudly; stop those inane whoops midway through the song. Stop whooping part way through a solo.
And if it’s an all seated venue, and you’re in the middle of the middle row, fuck off somewhere else to do that dance thing that you think makes you cool. It doesn’t – it means you’re a selfish twat.
It made me think..
It was probably just me. If you like his stuff – or stuff like it – you’ll have a blast. He engages really well with the audience, and clearly draws energy from it. His band are good (and the drummer is like Michael Jerome cloned).
But my other abiding thought was that you can’t underestimate the contribution of Joe Boyd (and Cale) to Nick Drake.