Providence notes - 26 October 1996

Just to add my two cents to the discussion of the Providence show:

I didn't write down the set list, but it consisted of most of the songs others have already noted at previous shows. Notably missing: Woods of Darney; Hide It Away; Easy There, Steady Now. This may have had something to do with the fact that WBRU's regular Saturday night dance party was scheduled for right after the show. So I guess we got a somewhat shortened show, but it sure felt like plenty of bang for my buck. And we got the impromptu version of "Eve of Destruction," which I don't think I would have traded for anything. That one came about when RT was introducing "Bright Lights" as "a quasi-hit in England in 19[covers hand with mouth, coughs, and mutters]72," and an audience member yelled, "Eve of Destruction!" To which RT replied, "`Eve of Destruction'? No, that was a _real_ hit!" and then launched into it, with the rest of the band coming in as they picked up on what he was doing. Gave me a right good chuckle.

They opened with "Razor Dance," which remains for me one of the least interesting songs on Y?M?U? - there's something too generic about it, not closely observed enough. However, "Bank Vault in Heaven" was amazing, with RT taking numerous and varied solos. What particularly impressed me in that song, and throughout the concert, and something that I don't think others have remarked upon, is the fact that throughout RT's solos, the rest of the band - especially DT and DM - didn't just provide passive, steady-rhythm backup, but rather played off of what RT was doing in a much more active way. Sometimes things seemed to wander a little far from the beat, but everyone always found their way back or, as I remarked to a friend, landed in some "wrong" but nevertheless very enjoyable and interesting place. Given this interplay, I'm afraid I just don't understand those who've been complaining about DM. As I did on the "Mirror Blue" tour - my first time seeing him - I found him to be an interesting and exploratory drummer throughout, always finding ways to accent and complement the song with cymbals and toms. DT felt a bit buried in the louder material, though - I don't know if that was the result of a poor mix or whether he's simply not playing "rock bass," as others have suggested. Certainly he shone on the quieter and acoustic material.

"Hamlet" was a charmer, though I wish RT would give credit to Frank Loesser (that's the writer, right?). How would RT like another person claiming (by omission) authorship of one of _his_ songs?

I greatly enjoyed "Business on You," but I wasn't surprised by its in-concert quality: it's one of my favorite songs on Y?M?U? And "Long Silken Hair," for whatever reasons - maybe its quietness in the midst of a largely stormy set - really caught my attention in a way that it hadn't on the album. I'm now tempted to go back and try harder to understand its "story."

Internet cracks were omitted in introducing "Ghost of You."

I did have a quibble with RT's guitar-playing - especially the electric. Too often it felt as if the solos bore no particular relationship to the song (other than of course being in the right key and such basic musical things). Instead it felt as if RT applied techniques from his musical bag of tricks - which is prodigious - willy-nilly to whatever song he was playing, without adjusting for the emotional content or mood. The playing was technically awesome, and my knees almost buckled at points when I was watching his fingers fly, but I would have wished for slower, simpler soloing at times, perhaps building to a faster climax - seems to me I recall the studio version of "Night Comes In" (one of my faves) as having that kind of structure. Does anyone know what I'm talking about, or share my opinion?

Of course there were a number of songs that, unlike, say, "PITP" or "BVIH," didn't lend themselves to that kind of firecracker soloing, and on those RT barely soloed at all. (I'm overgeneralizing, of course.)

One last note: After the concert, I stood in line to meet OH, and am now the proud owner of a copy of Nick Hornby's novel "High Fidelity" autographed by RT on one of the pages on which he is mentioned. (Thanks to those on the list who recommended the book - it's great.) This now joins my prized copies of William Faulkner's "Absalom, Absalom" autographed by the members of R.E.M. and my college ornithology textbook autographed by Terry Gilliam of Monty Python (it's a long story). RT was pleasant though not warm, and I found his face somewhat strange - _flatter_ than I expected, with an elfin expression. He'll be a very interesting-looking old man. By way of small talk, I apologized for the incident several years back where my date requested "Rawhide" at an all-requests show in New York, but RT didn't remember it and simply asked what he did (ventured a few bars and then stopped - and so should I).

Jesse Hochstadt

Hello everyone.

New to the list -- just signed up Friday.

I saw Richard in 96 and 97 in a club called Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel in Providence. It's a large club (I think it held about 600 people for the 96 show with his band), but I was still able to position myself about 10 or 15 feet in front of RT. I was totally blown away (as were my ears) when Richard did his solo in Put It There Pal -- that may have been my loudest concert experience, except for a couple of big indoor arenas with really bad acoustics. Richard's solo acoustic performance at Lupo's in 97 was probably the greatest concert I have ever seen -- completely mesmerizing.

There is also a bit of history with Lupo's (well, same club, different location). It is referred to in Humphries bio as the club in Rhode Island where Linda actually had to be pulled off Richard by the promoter in the dressing room. Local legend has grown over the years (the story grew to where she attacked him on stage with a bottle, but to the best of my knowledge that didn't happen). However, if anyone on the list was there for that 82 show (sadly, I'm now the only RT fan in the area who wasn't) and did see an attack on stage, I will stand corrected.

Bill Greene
Sun, 31 Jan 1999