"What did you go out...to 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
THE BITTER END
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
...which was followed by an even newer song, "Can't Sleep Tonight"...
How is it
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
To the sound
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
That you have to
That fight you all
From both sides
Of a burnin' book
The beauty was
...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
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
I'll dry them in
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
I'd go see every lousy
...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" state...you 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
After this, Michael returned again to more standard fare, including the rollicking "20 Miles South of Nowhere"...
...and the unrelentingly insistent "Junkie Girl...
and the veils hung
at Rose Hall..."
....before closing out his set with the lovely "Around the World"...
that I have met
I've befriended the
I had to travel around
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 brief...as 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 artistinsane.com in the not too distant future!
And to find your way to a Michael McDermott show yourself, check the "On The Road" section of michael-mcdermott.com right now!!