Last night Bigger E. took me to a show for the Father's Day not long past.
It was at the Rio.
I went straight from work, and when I left the weeping of the skies had already begun so I took the 99B-Line instead of my bike.
Truth be told, I wasn't all that crazy about leaving my machine locked-up at Commercial and Broadway for four hours on a Friday night anyway.
I met E. after her workday making music was done.
We went to see the Mountain Goats.
Just one 's', no capital 't'.
Which meant it was John Darnielle, all on his own.
Which, in many ways, may be preferable.
Do not get me wrong, because I dig the band, especially when it morphs into something bigger.
It's just that, as he explained, when Mr. Darnielle is on his own the conversations between songs tend to be even longer because there are no bandmates there to roll their eyes and/or tell him to shut up already.
Which means that you get to learn more about the songs.
Which are epic enough on their own, but when the guy that built them explains how and why it's like a big door opens and truth, beauty and pathos and everything else ushers you right on in to have a closer look.
Or something like that.
Unlike many in the crowd, who truly were true devotees, I do not know Mr. Darnielle's complete catalogue well, mostly because it is so massive and because I myself have become an old guy who is most often only a devotee in the moment rather than for now and ever after (or at least until the next big thing takes you away when you are a kid).
Anyway, one tune that I knew a little before we went in hit me like a tonne of bricks after the explanation followed by the erethreal playing of the thing.
It is called 'Song For Dennis Brown' and, in part, it's about a guy who was Bob Marley's favourite singer who finally disintegrated for good after a long, slow decline. But, for me the last lines each of the verses are at least a little bit about something else.
Which is that the 'there but the grace of nobody but me and mine go I' thing is vitally important even if, and especially if, you have somehow managed to get through to the other side without all the grace you ever needed.
Which, of course, is the way it is for everyone.
This is kind of, but not exactly, how 'Dennis Brown' went last night...
And this is how it went this morning after I figured out how to play it...
At least two Vancouver firsts for Mr. Darnielle....First solo show in Vancouver since 1997 at the Starfish Room...Clearly, he was taking a bit of stock comparing, almost under his breath, the difference in all kinds of ways including, I can only presume, the size of the venue (the Rio seats 400+ and while, unlike every single other night on his Westcoast tour, this one was not sold out, but it was close)....Another first was the fact that he played an upright piano on stage which meant he had to face the side of the stage while playing and turn and look back over his shoulder, or slouch over the back of the chair when conversing. Both led to interesting moments, some funny some very poignant - clearly the piano does something a little different to him than the guitar...
And while I'm sure it was not a first, E. was impressed that Mr. Darnielle called out a fan (?) for shouting out 'Freebird' when the rapid fire requests from the devotees began...I kind of missed that but, as she explained while we waited for the bus in the rain on the way home, it happens to her in various guises all the time....That very day in fact somebody who had already tossed a few coins in her case told her he wanted to hear more, but only if she would cease her 'Fogtown' and everything else song cycle immediately...The real, true performing pirate's life for her, I reckon...Me, I just do my cycles (which actually include a couple of Darnielle songs that use those usual four chords) on the beach, with the dog, especially at the water's edge when the tide is way, way out...
little e. couldn't go....The Rio has fixed it's liquor license problem, so it was NOT an all ages show...Dustin Wong was the opener....It was a very cool Loopaploopestravanganza....
Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes...JD did, indeed, play...this!
Finally, on the (very) off-chance you are really missing our regular Uke Sat Night feature, you can find a bunch of them here....