Monday, September 24, 2018

Don't Wanna Live as an Unsung Melody

I know, I know, I'm living the dream. Today, at least.

First there was the interview done on the terrace (bigger than my entire apartment) of a S1.6 million penthouse. That was followed by the sublime pleasures of a foot massage, which is something akin to orgasmic for a daily walker.

But wait, there's more. The really big deal was going from waking up not knowing who the Struts were (English glam rock band) to seeing them play live shortly after lunch. And loving it.

Credit goes not to XL 102, the radio station sponsoring today's afternoon set, but to Facebook, which listed the appearance as an event. My brain went into overdrive: hmm, I never heard of these guys, but they have several things going for them: they're English, they're glammy and they're playing a mile away during a time of day I won't be working.

I'm so easy.

When I mentioned the band to Mac on our walk to the river this morning (swollen and overflowing the banks of Brown's Island, the pipeline nowhere in sight under so much rushing water), she immediately knew who they were. Too bad she had to be at work right about the time they were taking the stage at Capital Ale House.

Eager beaver that I am, I arrived before they'd even opened the doors, although I could hear them sound-checking as I walked by in the rain. The hostess said the band had had a flat tire on the way, so the set might be delayed.

A few minutes later, they allowed us in and a curious crew of glam rock fans followed, only to be told we weren't allowed to stand by the stage, but had to sit. Mild grumbling ensued as people found chairs.

I tend to think there's something in the glam rock bylaws that states differently, but I found a table to sit and people watch from. There was the Clark Kent-looking guy in a suit, tie and glasses and a blond woman dressed Stevie Nicks style and teetering on ridiculously high platform shoes.

The woman who sat at my table explained that she no longer had the wherewithal to stand for shows ("It's not that I'm old, I just don't have the drive anymore"), although she had a ticket for the Struts' show at the National tonight so I feel sure there'll be standing in her future.

Sitting in a darkened music hall, surrounded by the detritus of Oktoberfest (banners for Lowenbrau and Weihenstephaner hanging on the walls) waiting for the XL Session to begin, it occurred to me how random it was that I was even there.

We had to get through some XL 102 DJ introducing the Struts, reminding the crowd that the band had opened for the Foo Fighters in D.C. last year and were on tour in support of their upcoming album, "Young and Dangerous."

Then the Struts came out and everyone rose to their feet, causing lead singer Luke (with a strong resemblance to a millennial Freddy Mercury, sporting a killer grin and wearing an over-sized newsboy cap) to begin his charm offensive with, "Good morning!" Pause. "You may be seated."

Never mind that it was just after 1:00. Perhaps they were still on Derbyshire time.

The guys playing the two guitars and a drum box sat in bar stools while Luke stood at the mic and announced that the earworm "Body Talks" would be the first song. "Snap your fingers!" he instructed the room and we obeyed. "In time, please!" he called out immediately.

So right away, he got points for humor.

After the song, he asked, "Anyone here going to the show tonight?" and most everyone hooted their affirmation. "I hope tonight's audience is as loud as you are!"

The band slowed it down for "Somebody New," a sweet song about not being ready to love again that not only showed off how strong Luke's vocal chops were, but also how charismatic he could be. My only regret was that he was dressed in traveling clothes rather than the glammy Zandra Rhodes outfits he's known for.

Even so, he had major stage presence.

Between songs, a fan called out a request and then another. "We're not taking requests right now, but I applaud your enthusiasm!" Luke joked before taking off his cap and letting loose a mane of dark hair. So rock star-like.

"Could Have Been Me" followed, an anthem for living without regrets if ever there was one, and then, just like that, it was over. The woman sitting with me had guessed that their set would last 90 minutes and I hadn't had the heart to tell her we'd be lucky if we got 5 songs.

Three, we got three, but they were all strong. What do you expect for free, anyway?

The trade-off was that the band was willing to pose for photos with anyone wanting to line up, so there was a rush to where the DJ stood as everyone who'd skipped out of work or was spending their lunch hour getting their glam rock fix beat feet to have a picture taken to prove it happened.

Not me. I headed straight for the door, my glam rock memories already etched in my head. Fact is, if I hadn't already had plans, I'd have bought a ticket to their show at the National tonight.

I wanna live better days
Never look back and say
Could have been me

Not bloody likely living the glam rock life. Regrets, it seems, are for those who let their drive die.

Don't look at me. Every day's a better day.

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