Monday, November 19, 2007

The Show I'll Never Forget: 50 Writers Relive Their Most Memorable Concertgoing Experience

"You may have to say things twice," she said, "because my ears are still ringing. I went to a show last night."

"Who'd you see?" I asked.

"Uh ... The Dropkick Murphys?"

"No kidding!" I said, feeling elated that I was so freshly "in-the-know" about this band (a sweeping tip o' the hat to DV!). Had the Pogues been more like these guys, you could have called me a fan. Where the Pogues' frontman Shane McGowan eventually made every song sound like he was gargling marbles, the Murphys' testosterone levels keep the lines of communication in a clear roar. "Those guys sound like they could put on an incredible show."

She shook her head, and her eyes got a little wider. "It was insane," she said after a pause.

"You had a good time, then?"

She mulled that over, then said, "Well ... it got pretty insane."

It later came out that one of her group (college educated to a person) spent the night in the hoosegow after getting into a row, and she wasn't entirely sure what to make of it all.

Sounds to me like she has the material for a little prosaic gold, if she gives it a decade or so to steep. Hers is the sort of experience that fills the pages of The Show I'll Never Forget. I've hesitated recommending this book, because it is a very diverse collection of essays, and of the 50 there are probably only six that really haunt me. The majority of the remaining 44 are still worth reading, but man: nothing hits me between the eyes like Thomas Beller's account of The Kinks at Madison Square Garden in 1981. Beller, if he is to be believed, impulsively committed an act of incredible stupidity -- incredible stupidity! -- yet survived. I don't want to say any more, because the bald details are almost beyond credibility; yet Bell's rendering of the whole experience is completely persuasive. Similarly Diana Ossana's heartbreaking remembrance of Led Zeppelin in 1973, and John Albert's first exposure to Black Flag at the Hong Kong Café in LA, 1979. Lives writ large in the echoes of a great concert.

Not quite worth the full price on the jacket, but certainly worth borrowing from the library or purchasing remaindered or used.


DarkoV said...

What better compliment could a band to receive if it were to know that it was a night in the pokie for you after hearing them perform. And college-educated to boot! When your friend does make sense of it all, let us know. It sounds like a tale worth hearing.
Glad you liked the Dropkicks Murphys! They could turn a trip to the loo into a loud and life-offending experience.
Talent, that.

Oh, and you're dead on about the Pogues, a group I tried to like until I heard Black 47, a truly angry band with balls, blather, and bellicosity. The Murphys are a fine compliment to them. The Pogues seemed like...uhmmm...pansies. Even The Frames had a harder edge to them.

DarkoV said...

...and so, WP, I'm sure that there's a great concert (or several) that you're dying to write about but in fear of damaging the innocents.

Why not use the time-honored male technique, usually practiced in a doctor's office, that begins with, "A friend of mine ...."

We, your faithful readers, will know how to read between the lines...

Whisky Prajer said...

I'm not so sure. When it comes to me and concerts, the phrase that comes to mind is, "Deep down I'm really very shallow." Either that, or I'm unconsciously suppressing some really ripe material(?). We'll have to see.