Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Here I am back home after yesterdays trip to London to see the magnificent Tom Waits gig at the Hammersmith Apollo. How do you review the gig of the year?

After all the excitement of getting hold of one of the 3,400 tickets for his fist and only UK gig for 17 years, I was slightly worried that the show may be an anti climax – well it wasn’t!

The air was thick with anticipation as Mr Waits and his wonderful band walked onto the stage at around 8:30. Two hours later the crowd were still howling for more as the band departed for the final time on a memorable evening.

The show started with a raucous version of “Hoist That Rag” from his latest album “Real Gone”, that brilliant album formed the backbone of the 2-hour set. Time and again the clanking, clattering, jittery, funky blues of the record set the hall alight. Blistering versions of “Make It Rain”, “Sins Of The Father”, “Top Of The Hill” and most stridently “Don’t Go Into That Barn” with wonderful call and response section – “Did you bury your fire?” “YES SIR!”-“Did you cover your tracks?” “YES SIR!”- “Did you bring your knife?” “YES SIR!”- “Did they see your face?” “NO SIR!” being chanted by the exuberant crowd, set a tingle up the spine.

The biggest tingle factor for me however came from a very different song from that album. The wonderfully understated soldiers lament “Day After Tomorrow”, bought a hush and dignity to the hall, which was very moving.

Plenty of other highlights from albums old and new all enlivened by the wonderfully animated performance of the great man. Part crazed preacher man, part hard-bitten noir detective, gag teller, raconteur and genial host; he is the perfect front man.

Finally that voice, gruff and gravely yet somehow with perfect enunciation, not a phrase or nuance was lost in the excellent sound. Truly this was a very special performance, one that I doubt that I will ever see again, I’m so pleased that my friend Pete managed to track down the tickets, for this once in a lifetime event.


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