Monday, June 27, 2011

Hot! Live! Music!

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, "If I Should Fall Behind"
Next to Bruce himself, Clarence Clemons was the iconic figure of the E Street Band. Why? Seriously? Look at the guy --- you literally couldn't draw up a better image of a bad-ass saxophonist if you tried. In addition to the sax, the Big Man did some backing vocals on a number of Boss songs (and had a hit single himself with Jackson Browne) but rarely had an elongated vocal part with the E Streeters until this special live version of "If I Should Fall Behind." Interestingly enough, the song was originally from the Lucky Town album, one of two simultaneously-released discs that Bruce released without the E Street Band backing him up, so it's nice to see that the tune (pretty much the only one from those records that still appears in Springsteen concerts) has been recast as a paean to band unity. The only thing that would've made this better is if the entire E Street Band had contributed a verse, but whatever, the world probably doesn't need to hear Max Weinberg's singing voice. Lord knows weird things always happened when he talked on Conan's show. RIP, Big Man.

Gordon Lightfoot, If You Could Read My Mind
Canada Day is this weekend, so, yeah. He's SEVENTY TWO. And STILL TOURING. And still apparently rocking a mullet as of 2009! Gordon Lightfoot is awesome.

Scissor Sisters, "Running Out
Also, happy Pride weekend, everyone besides Rob Ford! I've got to say, I'm a bit let down by the show here. I expected Scissor Sisters to bust out some really elaborate nonsense for a festival performance, but I guess Glastonbury saves the big light shows/special effects for the headliner acts at night. If you perform during the day, well, no light show can compete with the sun. Fun fact: I only just realized the chick in Scissor Sisters is actually a chick. I've been under the impression for years that "Ana Matronic" was a guy in drag who just had a high voice, or possibly a transsexual. But, nope, joke's on me, Ms. Matronic, if that is her real name, is all woman. This may be a commentary on either my lack of observational skills or on her looks, but since I'm a nice fellow, I'll presume it's the former.

R.E.M., "Nightswimming"
I've often considered the album version of this track to be either the best bad song ever or the worst good song ever. The piano part is just so simple and so pretty, but on the record, Stipe just bellows out the vocal and, at that volume, makes the melody sound almost tuneless. I almost feel like another of R.E.M's hits, Electrolite, was an attempt at making a 'proper' version of Nightswimming. Like, on that one the band was like, "Hey Michael, we have another pretty piano melody here, but this time could you actually sing something that actually compliments it?" But whatever, this is Hot LIVE Music, not Discussing Album Tracks 101. This live version of Nightswimming is oodles better because Stipe just lowers his voice an octave and sings about 85% quieter than he does on the album.

The Snipes, Silicon Wreck
So amidst rock legends like the E Street Band, Gordon Lightfoot and R.E.M, there seems to be no better place to insert this live track from my buddy Aron's band. It's only a matter of time before the Snipes are mentioned in the same breath as those other acts. I'm not sure who this song was written about --- maybe Aron also thought Ana Matronic was a transsexual and he was imagining that it might be like if he/she pursued breast implants to fully swing the pendulum over to the woman side. Actually, wait, 'swing the pendulum' may have a double meaning in the transsexual community.

U2 "Please/Where The Streets Have No Name"
U2 are being (quite rightly) hailed for their great set at Glastonbury this year, which is a little like hailing Michael Jordan for hitting a jump shot, but even still, it's always nice to see the band get a bit more acknowledgment that they're the best live act ever. The question is, within all of U2's great live shows, what moments stand out as *the* top moments? For my money, U2's top live moment was the transition between "Please" (one of their top five live songs) and "Where The Streets Have No Name" (their greatest live song). Talk about an absolute perfect flow from one song to the other. U2 hasn't played much of 'Please' live over the years but man, would it ever be an awesome idea to bring it back. If they wanted to get it polished off by, oh, say, the July 11 concert in Toronto, that would be cool. Someone I know will be at the show! Some guy named Mark!

Talking Heads, "Making Flippy Floppy"
These Hot Live Music posts are pretty infrequent, so the attempt to include every single track from Stop Making Sense is still making gradual progress. We've got through all of the great ones (10 tracks!) and now we've gotten to the ones that are merely very good. Again, greatest concert film of all time. There is no counterargument. If you suggest the Justin Bieber movie, you will be punched in the mouth.

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