Bitter End  4-18-02
Home Up Michael's Bio McDermottOPOLY McD Setlists '00-'09 McD Press Archives Tin Angel  1-26-08 Gullifty's  1-25-08 WCL  9-28-07 Living Room  8-29-07 Living Room  8-15-07 Living Room  8-1-07 Living Room 5-15-06 Bitter End 5-14-06 WCL  4-11-06 Wingfest  2-27-05 Valpo, IN 2-20-05 WCL  12-17-04 The Point 9-18-04 Philly 7-17-04 Tower Rec. 7-15-04 N x NW  5-7-04 Cutting Room 5-6-04 Miscellaneous (5-04) Kimmel Center 5-5-04 Wheaton, IL 2-28-04 The Abbey 2-20-04 Bolingbrook 9-27-03 Ravenswood 8-10-03 House Concert 8-9-03 New York 2-28-03 Whiskey Bar 2-26-03 Schubas 12-28-02 Schubas 12-27-02 Makor  7-22-02 The Point  5-26-02 The Point 4-19-02 Bitter End  4-18-02 Nevin's Live 1-26-02 The Point  12-14-01 Stone Pony 11-24-01 Half Door  10-26-01 The Point  8-18-01 Brownie's  8-16-01 Brownie's  5-12-01 The Point  5-5-01 The Point  1-27-01 The Mercury Lounge


"What did you go see?  A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see?  A man dressed in fine clothes? No...then what did you go out to see?"  (Matthew 11:7-9)

     The above quote, of course, was spoken about John the Baptist, a man whose identity and purpose (and, apparently, one whose manner and dress -- not to mention his eating habits!) seemed to confound many people in his day...even though he spoke plainly about his mission as neither a saint nor savior, but merely a messenger of truth. 
     And while, as I have stated in prior essays discussing other  Michael McDermott shows, by no means is it my intent to inordinately glorify this "ordinary" artist by comparing him to Biblical figures or quoting the words of Christ, even so,  I nonetheless continue to find examples of ordinary men used for extraordinary purposes in days gone by particularly apt in explaining the truly noble purpose Michael and other genuine artists like him serve in today's society...especially since, as in the case of John the Baptist, there seems to much confusion and lack of recognition surrounding the identity of such individuals despite the simplicity of their mission and the efficient thoroughness with which they continually and faithfully fulfill it.
    What arguably sets Michael apart from other "ordinary" artists, however, is that surely few are so rarely gifted in their ability to constantly find new and creative ways in which to share their messages of phrases, new melodies, new insights into age-old characters and conflicts.  And the means Michael invariably calls upon to  continually succeed at this endeavor is merely to courageously open the well of his own experiences -- his joys, his doubts, his fears, and above all the strength, hope,  beauty and determination that characterize his spirit -- for all the world to see.  
     In summation, the point that I am trying to make is simply that it seems the more one tends to show, in many cases the less most people see.  In other words, as a favorite quote of mine (by the British playwright William Congreve) states, "No mask like open truth to cover lies, as to go naked is the best disguise."  And, if ever an artist walked "naked" throughout the world, spreading nothing more clearly than open truth, then indeed that artist is none other than Michael McDermott.  What's more, by exposing himself so openly to us, as he did once again on the spring night in New York City this page has been created to commemorate, he likewise constantly exposes our own characters, our own "nakedness",  to ourselves.  Whether or not we choose to look, however, depends on "what [we came] out to see" -- not to mention how courageously we're willing to deal with what we subsequently find.


Michael opened his set with the fast-paced and lyrically challenging "Sword of Damocles"...a song that despite having made its debut only late last year many are already calling a McDermott classic...




    "Wake up to the
              sounds of your
              aching heart

        To see your soul's
              enemy approach
              your rampart..."




...which was followed by an even newer song, "Can't Sleep Tonight"...


"I can't

  How is it

  There's a

     evil and


Another brand new song followed.  Both immediately topical and incredibly personal, "Hellfire in the Holy Land" explores the ravages of a worn-torn region and the confusion of its victims...

    "The sky had
         wide open

     To the sound
          of rolling

    Tearing down
        the castles
         made of


      In the Holy

Next Michael moved to the piano for a more familiar tune about another intense battle, one raged solely against oneself..."Gettin' Off The Dime"...



"Do you ever feel
     the forces

 That you have to
    work against,

  That fight you all
     along the way

   From both sides
     of a crooked


  Blowin' through
      the pages

  Of a burnin' book
      I found

  The beauty was
     revealed by


...which was followed by the beautiful, "Bourbon Blue".  As an added treat, before beginning Michael introduced Jason Singer, who joined him on saxophone for both this...




  "Downward I was
      falling, reaching

     For a strand so true...


    I'll keep holdin' on

    For my Bourbon Blue."




...and the always impressive "Wounded" -- the addition of Jason to which raised this inherently art-filled masterpiece to a whole new level...


     "I'm gonna wash my hands
          in the water;

       I'll dry them in the garden's


       I'm too tired for sleepin';

       I'm too wounded to hurt."


Though less talkative than on many occasions, Michael did recount a brief tale about days gone by when he frequently played The Bitter End on Monday nights.  And, naturally, by doing so he became acquainted with various other artists who shared the bill, one of whom he unfortunately later heard had met an untimely death.  As a result, he declared, "This one's for Gordon Gaines" before embarking on the wistful "Summer Days"...


      "Do you remember those
             summer days?








     I'd go see every lousy
          gig you played..."



...then returning to the guitar for yet another brand new song, "Riding On The Spare".  I have to confess, however, that I (and a few other listeners, thankfully, making me feel much less a dope!) at first thought the title, "riding on despair".   Upon learning the truth, however, I've got to admit my first thought prompted quite a chuckle...I mean, think about it -- it's like we'd ascribed to Michael one of those stereotypical "Joisey" accents the "foreigners" who've watched too many Sopranos episodes believe afflicts every inhabitant  of "my" know, something like "I hadda flat dis mawnin'; now I'm ridin' on de spare!"

Be that as it may, whatever the title, this is simply a great song...



   "Wishing wells and

      ...juke joints and


     I chase the sweetness
         of your shadow... "




After this, Michael returned again to more standard fare, including the rollicking "20 Miles South of Nowhere"...

...and the unrelentingly insistent "Junkie Girl...



"Stories of  daggers

  and the veils hung

  at Rose Hall..."




....before closing out his set with the lovely "Around the World"...


     "I know that I have met
         some prophets,

       I've befriended the
         lowest of the low...


       I had to travel around
         the world

       Just to find my way home."



And on that note, it was time for all of us who had been privileged to listen once more to this messenger of truth find our own way home.  On this occasion, however, we were thrilled to know the journey would be an unforgettable night at The Point in Bryn Mawr, PA was already less than 24 hours away... for photos, commentary and details of which be sure to find your way back to in the not too distant future!

And to find your way to a Michael McDermott show yourself, check the "On The Road" section of right now!!


Back to Top


Back to New Madness