Last night we saw M. Ward at the Trocadero here in Philadelphia. There are very few shows that I’ve attended where I’ve looked back and said “I was there when”. They seem to all take place at the Troc. Radiohead and Belly in 1993 and Elliott Smith in 1998 are the two that immediately come to mind. Last night reminded of the first time I saw Elliott Smith (iTunes) play. At the time Elliot was coming off of the release of XO which followed up on his commercial breakthrough which was his soundtrack for the movie Goodwill Hunting. That night I almost didn’t go. I was supposed to go with a girl that I was interested in and she bailed on me. I vacillated between going by myself and staying at home – I decided to stay at home but turned on the television only to see Bill Clinton giving a speech. I turned off the TV and made a mad dash to Center City. It wasn’t quite filled, but it wasn’t empty and all of the fans there walked away amazed. I even met a girl there making the decision to go alone all the more fortuitous. Quite a special night.
Last night was very similar in feel. I was there with my girl – this time my wife Kristen. After last year’s She & Him (iTunes) project with Zoey Deschanel, M. Ward has released the gorgeous album Hold Time (iTunes). Like Smith, Ward has done a lifetime of attention deserving work before people were paying attention. They’re really paying attention now. I’ve seen some major acts at the Troc – Radiohead, Pavement, The Lemonheads at their height – all shows were well attended, last night’s sold out show was the most crowded I remember attending (a scary proposition for those of you familiar with the Troc. Thank god that Ward isn’t really a pyrotechnics type of act.) It started with just him and his guitar for three songs. The crowed was transfixed, mouths agape, as if trying the breathe in the music. M. Ward’s voice is like Tom Wait’s prior to Wait swallowing razor blades. The right amount of personality without going too far. You’re never hearing the voice over the song. Then Ward’s band came out and ran through a 90 minute set that pulled from all 6 of his solo releases.
My only disappointment was that opening act Vivian Girls didn’t translate well live. All distortion and all of their songs literally and figuratively ran together. They’re style is similar to a number of bands from the early 90’s that were better.
All in all – I wish all shows I attend would be like this, but then again, when everything is special, nothing is. Friday night was special.
For those of us fossils that still buy our albums, here’s a link to the new Morrissey album ” Years Of Refusal” on Amazon MP3 where for the time being it’s $3.99. This is supposed to be a good album – love the cover.
I was traveling this past week for work, so I missed the Joaquin Phoenix interview on Letterman last Wednesday. I have seen some of Letterman’s weirdest moments – Farrah Fawcett and Crispin Glover come immediately to mind. Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagovejich’s recent turn on Letterman’s couch as well as McCain’s aim at redemption were instant classics. Phoenix added a new one to the list.
I really can’t tell if this is a character, of if Phoenix has gone off the rail. Considering that Casey Afleck is filming the whole thing, I’m hoping this is a Borat type event.
The Super Bowl this past weekend was the culmination of two weeks of jealousy. It started with the Eagles losing to the Arizona Cardinals but that wasn’t bad enough. The Super Bowl made me realize what the Eagles don’t have. It was like the game was there just to remind me how my Eagles are lacking.
First Larry Fitzgerald taking a catch 70 yards for a touchdown and the lead with under 3 minutes to go. Fitzgerald is the best wide receiver in the league – at the start of this season, some might have argued he wasn’t the best on the team. Fitzgerald was held to nothing and with one catch nearly won this game for the Cardinals. That was only the beginning.
Ben Roethlisberger told his team “It’s now or later.” He then drove his team 78 yards masterfully to win the game with seconds to go. It was a thing of beauty. Roethlisberger has grit and the determination of a winner. He probably had no doubt that he would win the game. Let’s not forget the catch that Santana Holmes made – for all of the grit that Big Ben showed, the catch by Holmes was that of an all-star.
Unfortunately I look at the Cardinals and Steelers and see my team lacking in ways that we are either unable to change or unwilling to. Donovan McNabb is one of the best quarterbacks that has played the game, but he is not what I would ever call a “winner”. At the beginning of that drive, I don’t think even McNabb would have believed he could do it. I try and remember McNabb winning a big game in the final minutes and I can’t. But the Eagles won’t and shouldn’t change quarterbacks – because he is still good enough to win. What the Eagles need to do is improve the other areas of this team to make up for the deficiencies of their quarterback – but they’re unwilling. They will not get a wide receiver of Fitzgerald’s quality. And they won’t get a running back to supplement Brian Westbrook.
The Eagles don’t have to be the next coming of Vince Lombardi’s Packers to win the Super Bowl. They do need to accurately identify their faults and address them. For the years that I have watched Andy Reid’s version of the Philadelphia Eagles, that is their fatal flaw. That we’ve been saying the same thing for most of Andy Reid’s tenure is an indictment of this administration.
Regardless of Donovan McNabb’s faults, he should be credited with bringing this flawed team as far as he has. Now it’s time for Andy Reid to step in and do the rest.