June 14th, 2011


Music musings

I was a little worried about Paul (McCartney - what other Paul is there?) last December. My sister alerted me that his voice sounded shot on SNL. I watched it and he was not at his best. Not quite as terrible as I feared, but still. Internet posters claimed SNL has notoriously bad sound and the performers can't hear themselves - or that he was ill. His Apollo concert a few days later (which I heard on Sirius - I had entered the contest to attend, but my invite must have been lost in the mail :0) was better, actually a lot better, but not perfect. He's getting older, he can't always be phenomenal. I dunno.

I haven't watched recent concert YouTubes so don't know how he's been sounding lately. But when I got an e-mail that he was coming to Yankee Stadium in July, any doubts flew out the window. Of COURSE I'm going! There was a presale through Paul's site that day. N who I'd gone with before was not yet awake, but A was online and willing to go (he hadn't gone last time and regretted it after we constantly raved about how good it was). After much difficulty (best available is what? Let's try again), I managed to get 2 single seats (not together) in section A3 at top dollar. I had a third in the shopping cart at one point, but N woke up and decided he couldn't top his previous experiences (he'd also seen Paul open a new arena in Pittsburgh last year), so I let it lapse (had an e-mail in to someone else who later replied she didn't want to go; I probably could have found a taker but at those prices I didn't want to be stuck). Two tickets bought!

Minutes later I got an automatic phone call from my credit card company saying they'd declined the charge due to possible fraud, and to contact the seller. Nooooooo!! Do you know how hard it was for me to get those tickets? I called the credit card company. They'd flagged the charge because it was a Web purchase to the UK. I explained it was legit, and they assured me the charge was now going through. It's now listed as being paid, so I certainly hope so. The tickets are being sent physically so I won't feel assured until they arrive.

Meanwhile, the Web presale sold out, not only my desired section but higher-up ones. I had section B floor seats last time, but now really wanted the closer-in A. I followed the LiveNation presale the next day, and the official sale a few days later, and nothing nearly as good as my seats came available. In fact, the stadium sold out the morning of the regular sale, and they added another concert for the following day. There's lots available on StubHub, but right now they're at a premium, so I'm very happy with my face value arm-and-leg cost. Plus, the day I bought the tickets I billed a freelance client for almost that exact amount.

Paul also announced concerts in Chicago, Detroit and Cincinnati so if you're in any of these places, GO!! Hopefully he's back in good form and this will be the best concert you've ever seen (as it was for me).

The other best concert I ever saw, as you've heard ad infinitum, was Level 42 at the Nokia in their first U.S. tour since 1987, almost exactly a year after Paul. They claimed they're coming back this year, but so far no indication of this - just Europe and the Far East (there's a large fan base in Indonesia). Besides wearing out Rhapsody and YouTube, I've been, well, Net-stalking people associated with the group. I won't go into detail so as not to creep them out (and from what I've seen on the Net, there are people a lot worse than me).

Original band members Mark King and Mike Lindup are "taken" and I would never stalk them, although I love their music. Lead singer and bass guitar whiz King is decidedly middle-aged, can be pudgy and scruffy (though looking OK lately), and just not my type. Internet commenters describe him as "sex on a stick," "sex face" and "hot" but I'm all about the music. Well, almost all. He's quite gorgeous in this 1982 clip and almost 30 years later still electrified the audience at my concert.

More my type, cute and boyish with now-graying curls, but also "taken" is Mike Lindup. Some think his awkward dancing (shown in a better-than-the-record live performance of the early instrumental Sandstorm) is dorky (commenters suggest chaining him to his keyboard), but I think it's adorable. And omigod, he's wearing GLASSES in a recent performance of  "Love in a Peaceful World" (there's original L42er Phil Gould on drums, looking kind of cute himself). I was going to go on about the haunting Mike & Phil version of "Something About You" and speculate on why Phil and Mark no longer get along, but I really don't know what happened and my friends don't care. They did all play together at Mike's wedding (2001 or 2003? I'm too lazy to verify exact date).

Speaking of "taken" Paul has reportedly gotten engaged to Nancy Shevell. He does seem to like New York Jewish women. But I must remember that he's really not for me (ick, drugs and animals) and be strong.


The Play's the Thing

I have such a backlog of theater to blog about, I don't remember some of the shows. Might be best to start with those that are still playing.

I get many of my tickets through discount theater clubs which I'm not supposed to talk about, but I can say that "Billy Elliot" was not coming up (nor is it likely to, though one never knows). I finally bit the bullet and bought a full-price ticket on the aisle in the balcony. I actually prefer sitting up high since there's no danger of a tall person blocking the view. And with dance numbers, one gets a better sense of the whole. People are rapturous about this show, but I didn't love it madly. I did like it, and it was certainly worth the price. Haven't seen the movie.

"The Fantasticks" is also still around. The original ran 42 years, and this version began in 2006, in a theater named for original cast member Jerry Orbach (father of crossword constructor Tony). I knew nothing about the play other than the song "Try to Remember." While it was pleasant, I couldn't figure out why it lasted so long.

Project Shaw is a charming series of GBS readings at the Players Club. I had gone last fall, and went twice more in March and May. "You Never Can Tell" (now playing off-Broadway in a different production) included Chad Kimball from "Memphis" and Charlotte Moore from the Irish Rep, and was a comedy of errors with mistaken identities. March's offering had 2 plays - "Annajanska" and "Great Catherine" (as in Catherine the), with the wonderful Jayne Houdyshell as Catherine. Houdyshell previously stole the show in "The Language Archive" at Roundabout, which I really liked.

"Danny and Sylvia: The Danny Kaye Musical" has been running for 2 years and I finally saw it (running into an NPLer who happened to be in the audience). I didn't know much about Danny Kaye other than his classic kids' album "Mommy, Gimme a Drinka Water," so this play taught me about his life, especially his relationship with wife and collaborator Sylvia Fine. The play didn't mention that the couple were long-estranged, though they never divorced.

"Arcadia," which just won the Tony for Best Revival of a Play (originally 1993), was about the inhabitants of a country house in 1809 and the present. Parts of it were interesting and poignant, but I got bogged down in some of its underlying concepts (see Themes). Give me some good, old-fashioned mindlessness. :0

Like, oh, "The Addams Family." It's not really mindless, but won't strain anyone's brain (though one could intellectualize about outsiderdom). The production was lavish and silly, but I wasn't quite caught up in all the fun. I saw 4 plays last week, and this was the worst. I did like Jackie Hoffman, a hoot as Grandma.

Also just saw "Baby, It's You," a "jukebox musical" about the Shirelles and Scepter Records founder Florence Greenberg. The music and singing were great, the plot... eh. Part of the story seemed like a worse version of "Memphis" which some wished used original music of the era. So if you could combine the two, that would be a great show. Turns out Brian Cimmet's sister Alison is understudying lead actress Beth Leavel. Leavel was fine, but I would have loved to see Alison.

I couldn't remember if I'd seen the movie "Born Yesterday." The plot of the play seemed familiar (I know I'd heard the "Drop dead!" line), but maybe I just read about it. In any case, this old-fashioned 3-act play was quite entertaining, with Nina Arianda in a star-making performance.

The reviews for "Catch Me If You Can" were not great, so I wasn't expecting much. But I loved this, almost as much as "Memphis." The cast was high-energy, the music was decent (rarely are scores super-memorable these days), and the acting was good. FBI agent Norbert Leo Butz had a show-stopping number ("Wait, who is that?" I thought as I joined in the thunderous applause; he went on to win a Tony). I'd read the book (not seen the movie) so was a bit disappointed the plot didn't go into more detail about how Frank Abagnale pulled off his scams, but that's just a quibble and this was my favorite of the week.

Last month my young cousin graduated from a New School grad program, so she, her mother (in from Montreal) and I celebrated by seeing "Play Dead" in the Village. This was creepy at times, especially when the theater went pitch-dark, but it was basically fun. Except when... shudder. Teller (of Penn and) directed and co-wrote.

I hate to criticize a Holocaust musical, but "The People in the Picture" seemed generic and cliched. The critics agreed. Ran into an NPLer's son, proving once again that New York is a small town.

I have a lot of movies to review, but the only one still playing is "Super 8" which I saw Sunday. It had its moments, but was too violent for me (crash, bang, fire!).