happy birthday, gavin friday
An Evening With Gavin Friday and Friends
Carnegie Hall, 4 October 2009
I went to this show because the lineup was kind of randomly and delightfully eclectic and the chance to see the members of U2 in an extra-curricular activity is not something I generally get to see, and the whole Gavin-Bono-Guggi trinity is fascinating. I really believed that all four members of the band weren’t going to appear onstage as U2 tonight. They were listed individually by name in the event listing.
I am also an idiot who was woefully unprepared for the wonder that awaited me.
I didn’t take notes because I’m kind of reviewed-out right now, but a couple of observations:
–It is still fascinating to me to see a big, popular band in a small room, because that’s when you can really see why they are big and popular and successful. No claw, no lights, no video, and yet U2 still utterly commanded the stage when they were on it.
–My favorite thing to watch? Larry Mullen Jr. playing drums. On any song. Haven’t had that clear or proximate of a view of him since the War tour.
–Courtney Love: needs to go far, far away. She didn’t sing, she read a long rambling love letter to the Virgin Prunes that also made sure to cover how much she loved Bono (so much so that at one point I asked my companion who she was introducing). Luckily she didn’t get in the way too much.
–Best out of nowhere cameo: Fred Armisen coming on as Prince.
–Number of times ‘fuck’ was uttered on the Carnegie Hall stage: 3
–Number of times ‘motherfucker’ was uttered: 1
–Number of T.Rex references: half a dozen (“Children of the Revolution” to open was phenomenal, except that the sound was a trainwreck)
–Number of times ushers yelled at us that no electronic devices and no cameras were allowed: at least half a dozen before the show started.
–Number of iphone screens I could glowing see from my seat: too many to count
–Number of people busted trying to blatantly videotape U2’s first onstage outing: 1, from the front row of the dress circle (these people later left during “Sweet Jane”. More below.)
–Improbable thing I will write and tell my mother about: Joel Grey performing the opening number to Cabaret, which of course I know by heart because I grew up on show tunes
–I always wanted to see the Virgin Prunes. But it was one of those things you didn’t want to ever say because you would always be accused not actually liking the Virgin Prunes but wanting to see them because of the U2 connection, and no amount of “No, seriously, I like the concept of dadaist punk rock and I think it would be cool” would convince anyone.
–Larry and Bono almost falling out of the door to backstage watching the Virgin Prunes’ performance was beautiful.
–Did you know that ‘Each Man Kills The Thing He Loves’ was incredibly popular in Israel? Like out of proportion popular. I probably knew every person who owned it, but it was hella popular.
–I really did not expect the members of U2 to play together, let alone multiple times.
–I really did not expect Lou Reed to show up.
–I really, really didn’t expect Lou Reed to play “Sweet Jane” with Gavin. No seriously. “Sweet Jane”?
–It was worth the $90 to see Lou and Bono hug. (I missed the Lou/U2 love fest during Zoo TV because I was living overseas and only got to see it on video.)
–Of course the needle went off the chart when the Edge walked out and picked up a guitar, so now the Edge was playing on “Sweet Jane” WITH Lou Reed.
–And then I almost fell out of the balcony when the Edge hit a riff I could identify in my sleep. On the recording, you can hear me gasp, and then for a second I thought it was something else, because my companion did not react as strongly as I did so i thought I got it wrong, but no, it was “Jean Genie”. Let me just say that again: IT WAS ‘JEAN GENIE’. With Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson and John Zorn and Gavin Friday and Edge on guitar and Larry Mullen Jr. on drums and even Adam came back out for this one and Courtney Love is there and all I can think is, OH GOD DON’T RUIN THIS PLEASE and Gavin does Bowie proud and my companion leans into my ear and says GIVE BONO THE MICROPHONE, which of course happens, and at this point we are standing up and people are dancing and clapping and you would not believe how many people LEFT during “Sweet Jane” – and let me explain that this wasn’t a straight version of “Sweet Jane” or even a bombastic ‘Rock and Roll Animal’ era “Sweet Jane” (complete with 20 minute intro), it was more a Metal Machine Music-type “Sweet Jane” that I’m actually not sure was meant to be “Sweet Jane” except that at one point Gavin came onstage and started singing the lyrics, and the fantastic band picked it up and shaped it into something that sounded more like the “Sweet Jane” that most of us know. But seriously, people who claimed they were there to see U2 and yelled every time Bono was onstage and said things like “I guess they’re not going to play ‘One'” when they took Larry’s drum kit apart after that awesome, crisp version of “King of Trash,” these people LEFT, which of course I am perversely pleased about, that Lou Reed can still clear a room at his age, and that the Virgin Prunes can make people visibly uncomfortable during their performance, and that this all happened at Carnegie Hall because a bunch of friends made a promise to each other 35 years ago.
p.s. I didn’t give a shit about Lady Gaga being there, which is why it is not anywhere on this list.
LINKS TO IPHONE RECORDINGS, DON’T COMPLAIN:
Sorry, Sweet Jane was too much of a trainwreck and didn’t come out.
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