Below is a partial reconstruction of the threads
covering the topic of Michael's 1-27-01 show at The Point in Bryn Mawr,
PA. To offer a bit of clarification to a couple of references in it that
may not make sense to those who weren't Pauper's Sky visitors at that time, it
should be noted that this took place the evening before the 2001 Super
Bowl. Also, there was a running commentary on the board at the time
(particularly among its female members) regarding a "joke" Michael had
been using to preface his recent performances of "Murder On Her
Lips". Noting the song is about a "psycho woman" he'd met a
while back, he would stop and "correct" himself by reflecting,
"Well, I guess that's kind of a redundant statement"...which had Steph
plotting to send a few ice cubes from her drink in his direction the next time
she saw him...and since I was seeing him just after she made that comment, a
punishment she generously offered to lend me instead (having vowed to think of another
when the time came). Although I seriously contemplated her route, I
ultimately went with a somewhat gentler but no less "pointed"
expression of my disapproval by immediately following my introduction to Michael
with the fact I was then starting my website called "artistinsane" --
adding with a look of challenge that he'd likely think this had "something to do with that
psycho woman thing...". I still don't know if it's a coincidence the
joke never surfaced again -- or if he'd likewise perhaps read Steph's well
deserved "icy" threat!
The Point -- no the APEX!
I truly don't know where to begin...and I'm sure to an outsider who reads whatever I finally come with here, it will seem like I'm just some raving fanatic exaggerating my experience. But, I know that among "the faithful" at least some of this will make sense. In any case, here goes.
First, when my sister-in-law decided late this afternoon that she would like to go with us this evening, my husband called The Point to see if he could get one more ticket (we had purchased ours well in advance, of course) and was told that the show was sold out! Naturally, we were thrilled at this news. But it gets better...
Just after we arrived, we ran into Rocco and his wife, both of whom we'd met last year, and shortly thereafter Brian (from NYC) who we'd never before met, came over and asked if I was Mil, etc. and pointed Troy out to me. Brian talked with us for a few moments and, although I must admit that (in light of Troy's generous offer last week to make sure I got to meet Michael in Bryn Mawr) I was kind of nervous at first, this certainty that I was in the company of "family" assured me that all would indeed be well.
The place was packed!! There were actually people standing (quite a few of them), and this place seats a good number of people.
Michael came on just after 10, I believe, starting with Bourbon Blue, and it was evident almost immediately that there was something different about tonight, something more to Michael's mood, an even more intense level of emotion -- very positive emotion -- than is normally present...and again, the "normal" level is so high compared to that of most other artists, that this must sound a bit like exaggeration. It isn't.
Anyway, he moved on from that into Cal-Sag Road, and then the new song Grace of God. After that he talked a bit about his father, how much his father has gone through with him -- the drug rehab experiences, etc., and then he played Anything, which he said had been written for his dad. The truth in his voice during this song was staggering, and became almost unbearably believable desperation in the final words, "Papa, talk to me...talk to me..." It was amazing. But again, it doesn't end there.
He followed this with another new song, the title of which seemed to be River, Mighty, River, although I'm not exactly sure. After this came Junkie Girl and then he began the explanation behind Annie and the Aztec Cross -- which I'm sure most of you reading this have heard him tell before. It was clear, however, that he was feeling her situation even more deeply than usual tonight, and midway through the song he actually became so overwhelmed that he couldn't even continue for a time. And, although he bravely stuck with it, and ultimately finished, he had to get up and face the back wall for a moment to collect himself. It was the most moving moment you can possibly imagine. And although his struggle to press on made me feel for him, it also explained yet again his greatness in my eyes. In fact, it was one of those moments that defined it...that proved to any unbelievers just how real he is, how much he cares for others, and how courageous he is to willingly share such vulnerability. it was a moment of such clarity and revelation...it was, well, what's the use of trying to find words? The ones that would prove adequate just simply don't exist.
After that came Unemployed, which helped restore a more upbeat humor, then the beautiful Under the Undertow. After this, he stopped and shared a bit of philosophy for a few minutes. He said he'd been thinking about two things that more or less characterized much of his struggles in the past, with addiction, negative attitudes, etc. The first was that the word "lie" is in fact the center of "belief", and the second is that nothing in life has any meaning except that which one gives it, or applies to it. In other words, as he allowed himself to believe that certain bad things which happened, certain stumbling blocks, which began falling in his path, were in fact deserved, the deeper he became involved in self-destruction. He called himself "the clown' because that's how he began to see himself -- as "the village idiot". He now knows that was a "lie" which he had chosen to "believe". As a result, he now knows that "if you can reverse your way of thinking you can transcend anything". And he concluded by saying that tonight he believed, "I'm f---ing blessed...to be here with you guys".
He then touched on the psycho woman comment once more -- which he said this time was only a joke -- and launched into Murder On Her Lips. He then told a very funny story about meeting Matt Damon on the set of Rounders and how Damon had completely dissed him, mimicking Damon's cocky actions in doing so. "I figured I either had snot in my nose of my fly was down," Michael said. It was hysterical.
Naturally the reason he had brought that up was the connection with the film "Knockaround Guys", which of course means he then played 20 Miles South of Nowhere, which he followed with another brief story and then A Wall I Must Climb.
After this he said he was about to play his last song and thanked everyone for coming, truly in the most heartfelt way. He said this was the first sold-out show he'd played outside Chicago in 11 years and that he was so appreciative -- not that anyone could possibly have doubted it, it was so clear in his performance. He finished with Getting Off The Dime, and the crowd thundered applause. This naturally precipitated an encore, for which he solicited requests. My husband prevailed in his pleas for Around The World. Michael was already having trouble with his voice, a lingering result of his recent flu, but he still gave his all and who can express how much that is. He then finished (once again) with #49.
Well, that was the end of the show, but since this was supposed to be my night to meet Michael, I then went over to Troy, who directed me to T.J., who was just a joy to meet himself. What a nice guy! He recognized my name right away and said Michael would be out in a few minutes, then talked with us between selling CD's and shirts (which were flying out of there -- hallelujah!!!). A little while later, Michael came back into the room and the moment I'd wished six years for at last arrived. I told him Mary in TX said hi! and that I've been corresponding with several "Paupers", etc. He was so sweet, so patient and appreciative. I mentioned to him that I'm "kind of" a writer, too and he immediately said, "Don't say kind of..." Even supportive of the work of a fan. Again, words are failing me here.
Well, with that in mind, and having written a book (almost literally) -- for which this time I will not apologize, I'll end this here by adding only that this was one of those nights that you wish would never end and that you know you'll never forget -- it was Michael at his very best. And let me assure you...that's a very powerful thing.
Re: The Point
Well, I'm guessing and assuming that MM's interview on XPN had something to do with the turnout last night....it was amazing. I didn't realize it was sold out officially...
It was great to hear Anything (damn, the Giants have fallen apart as I'm writing this!). But the emotion was really intense, from Anything to Annie, to the overall feeling that MM may have turned a corner or is close to it...
I'm gonna go turn the TV off now...
Re: The Point
Oh, how I wish I'd been there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just reading your account brought tears to my eyes.
The Point & Mil's Post
I just want to take a moment to echo the wonderful post that Mil took the time to write a couple of days ago. Saturday night was an unforgettable night and I truly believe a strong sign of things to come for Michael. His performance was one of the most honest and passionate I have ever witnessed.
Well, you've seen from the above what several of those in attendance (in person or in spirit) thought of this special night. Perhaps you'd like to hear what Michael himself thought. The following is a phoned in tour report from the morning after the show (one of a series of such firsthand comments that were made available for download on a prior incarnation of michael-mcdermott.com.