Monday, May 27, 2013

Melodic Little Pill

You can't count on many Memorial Day Sunday throwdowns that involve the spawn of a Beatle.

And yet, here we had one tonight, being thrown down at the Camel.

Risa Binder and Goldrush were opening for the son of Sir Paul McCartney, James.

Given that it's the second day of a three day weekend, I never thought for a minute that the show would start on time (8:00).

And yet when I arrived at 8:23, I caught only the last of Risa's songs before her set ended.

I hate when that happens.

I found a music buddy who works at the National to chat with (heard a fabulous story of Bon Iver's Justin Vernon being led down Broad Street in a shower towel drunk) while Goldrush set up.

I'd already heard from bandleader Prabir that they were playing as a trio, not a quartet tonight, with the assurance, "This is just a tangent. We'll get back to being a quartet."

As huge Beatles fans, I felt sure that Goldrush's adrenaline was running especially hard tonight.

Working off of Prabir's phone for their set list ("We've gone paperless at Goldrush," he said), the band played a bunch of newer songs, including one violinist Treesa and bassist Matt had written for Prabir's birthday.

Mid-song, a threesome came in and proceeded to stand directly in front of the stage.

The problem was, everyone else in the room was sitting, and the only standing people were against the wall.

The man behind me got huffy at his blocked view, demanding of his server, "Is this the way it's gonna be?" to which she shrugged.

"No, really!" he said to show his displeasure at having a potentially blocked view of Macca 2.

I eventually asked the trio to move to the side and they did.

Goldrush sounded really strong and the crowd repaid them with an almost Listening Room-attentiveness.

Or maybe they were just captivated by a band with a purple-haired violinist in the cutest pencil skirt and slingbacks.

When they finished, a friend came over and said, "You were right! I like them better as a trio!"

But as we discussed, some rooms require a bigger sound and then you need your drummer.

Bassist Matt put it best. "I miss my Gregs. The trio sound is the sound of my loneliness."

Kind of breaks your heart, doesn't it?

During the break, I saw Prabir signing CDs for fans. So cute.

The stage was set for James McCartney's set with a piano, lots of guitars and even more candles.

"Ooh, very atmospheric," a friend said. "I like it."

I like how he rhymed "right" and "shite," but then, I'm a language geek.

In fact, I liked a lot of his British phrasing, including the title of the second song he did, "Life's a Pill."

Life is a pill
Give it to me now

An inordinate number of his song titles were one word - "Angel," "Bluebell," "Wisteria-" and, yes, he looks a lot like Dad, especially around the eyes and mouth.

Especially when his lips were pursed.

His show attire was a black t-shirt with leather braces hanging at his side.

"Thanks for coming out," he said by way of greeting. "I do have a song called "Virginia" on my new album, but I'm not gonna play it tonight. Just thought I'd mention that."

And then he launched into "You and Me, Individually."

Hey, he's Paul McCartney's son; he can do whatever the hell he pleases, I'm sure.

And he wanted to do Neil Young's "Old Man," full of lyrics one could take any number of ways.

Old man, look at my life
I'm a lot like you were

The man had a powerful voice (good DNA, you know), and whether he was playing guitar or piano, a talented musician.

What he wasn't was much of a talker.

At one point fairly far in, he joked, "I'll try not to not talk a little. Okay, this song is "Snow" and it's about spiders and things."

After pulling his braces up, apropos of nothing, he announced, "Who likes awkward conversations? Yea, I do, too."

So that explained that.

He closed his set with the single, "Strong as You," from his new album, saying, "I wrote this while listening to "Here Comes the Sun."

Hard for me to say 
How happy I am
Happy man
I am strong enough
To make it through
I am strong enough
Strong as you

When he returned for his encore (led by an assistant with a flashlight, no less), he did three songs for the crowd who hadn't budged when he walked off.

After doing "New York Times," he said, "If that song was my penultimate song, this song is my grand finale. It's called "Thinkin' About Rock and Roll."

I doubt there was ever a moment in his life when he could think about anything else.

Which made it my de rigueur Memorial Day Sunday throwdown.

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