Monday, September 26, 2016

The Way You Remember Me

How long 'till we learn dancing is dangerous?
How long 'till we find the devil inside of us?
How high is too low?
We're not that young*
So we're never going to stop

*Mind you, written and sung by a man of indeterminate age, so his notion of "youth" may be suspect.

I bought my ticket for St. Lucia at the National six weeks ago, but only found a worthy date for it a few days ago. In the meantime, the only other St. Lucia fan I know had commented that while the new album "Matter" wasn't quite as good as the first (because how many are?), there were more than a few terrific songs.

My first listen uncovered "Dancing on Glass," the Prince-titled "Game 4 You," the driving (and vaguely Christopher Cross-inflected) "Winds of Change" and the slow jam "Love Someone," meaning I now had even more reasons to look forward to this show.

We stopped at Rapp Session for Old Saltes and bluefish dip accompanied by sparkling Rose while the duo next to us nattered over why a friend had managed to pull down the towel racks and shower curtain while staying in their home.

"What could you be doing in a bathroom that would pull things off the wall?" she wondered aloud. Sex was my guess but I was told to shush.

Our time at Rapp Session was limited by needing to get a ticket for my companion at the National's box office, which required navigating the hustle and bustle of crowds on their way to eat before the Richmond Symphony season opener with Itzhak Perlman, resulting in blue hairs crowding every restaurant we passed.

But once that was accomplished, we were free to adjourn to Vagabond, where sparkling Rose and a massive ancho cocoa-smoked lamb shoulder tostada with chimichurri aioli and a flurry of Manchego on top finished off our appetites with lamb-be-cue worthy of the State Fair.

Arriving at the National shortly after Sofi Tukker (that's Sofi and Tukker, a duo) began their set, I overheard a guy refer to Tukker's hair as "Very Split Enz," while we all know that no one has hair with quite the swoop of Split Enz.

We heard songs in Portuguese, songs sung to recorded tracks (karaoke?) and praise when the audience followed instructions to do hand gestures to a song.

"We haven't had that much participation since we were in Latvia and no, that's not a punchline!" Tukker said from the stage.

I'm not gonna lie, I've been an unabashed fan of St. Lucia's debut album "When the Night" since I first heard it in 2013 and for years kept it in my car as quality back-up emergency music when I hadn't time to select fresh road trip soundtracks.

Fact: when you're on cruise control to the Northern Neck or Outer Banks, sometimes nothing but synth and danceable percussion will do.

After a couple of songs from the new album, the crowd roared when they launched into "Closer Than This," but I couldn't have been the only one noticing singer Jean-Philip Grobler's indebtedness to, say, George Michael.

I especially loved the wind effect that defined his performance, as his hair and black and white patterned shirt were blown constantly, as if he were starring in a cheesy '80s video, which, for all I know, he may have wished he was. He certainly wouldn't be the first.

He certainly had no fear of walking through the crowd, eventually making it back to the area in front of the sound booth where we stood and watched him high-five any number of dizzy fans.

Come to think of it, the percussionist bore a fair resemblance to John Oates in a sleeveless t-shirt and sweat pants tapered at the ankle, his shirt also billowing from an unseen fan.

Oh, if it were only that easy to revive that era.

Interestingly enough, I saw not a soul I know, a rarity for a show at the National, so I can only assume that my passion for '80s synth music-influenced bands with singers from South Africa is not one shared by my friends.

Happily, I only needed one, difficult as he may be. I'd be the first to admit that dancing can be dangerous but how high is too low?

I aim to find out.

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