"The voice...in the
dark... And...the soul! That was all you."
to explain the reasons for choosing the quote above to describe the Michael
McDermott show this page has been created to commemorate? How to
explain the communication that passes between a true artist and an audience at
any given time in mere words upon any page? Indeed, that is the
challenge with which I'm faced as I stare at this blank screen...and attempt to
capture on it in such a way as to pass on to you reading it even the tiniest
whisper of the feeling of actually being there...the smallest hint of the
meaning that was shared in a deeply darkened space lit -- to magnificent effect
-- by only the voice of an artist's soul.
A sign on the door announced this was the place for the sold-out crowd to begin filing in...
...and soon after all had found their places, Michael took to the stage to debut a beautiful new song recounting the arduous road back from a battle with oneself, a fight whose victory slowly comes into view as the lone combatant at last resolves, there's only "One Way To Go" from here...
feel like your luck's
You only find love in the
You're so tired of being tired,
And you're angry because
There's only one way to
This was followed by "Darkest Night Of All", an only slightly older song that was indeed new to much of the deeply appreciative audience enjoying it...and for which Michael was joined by TJ on bass...
"He was talking to the
Nobody knew what to
He said nobody listened
He said, "They think I'm just a
Next Michael switched to guitar for a bit of more familiar material, including the Greek mythology inspired "Sword of Damocles"...
wake up to
To see your soul's
...and the (unfortunately, ongoing) headlines-inspired "Hellfire In The Holyland"...
"He woke up near Damascus
With a widow's mite sittin'
He wasn't sure what
It was somethin' no one else
We'll never know what was scheduled to come next up on the setlist as, upon Hellfire's end he noted to Mike Hanisch -- who provided wonderfully appropriate visuals for each selection from this and the 12/28 show as a backdrop to Michael's performances -- that he was "gonna call an audible" on the next song...an excellent choice, as the turmoil of the last tale was balanced by a reminder of the "Grace of God"...
like the holiest
Are you sure you're
...which was followed by the McDermott classic, "A Wall I Must Climb"...
"Things were moving so fast,
I couldn't comprehend it...
I was first, maybe I was last...
Confusion had descended...
I was amazed by what had
Down through the pages of
Past Henry VIII,
Who pays a dollar
Next came a truly surprising treat...an intense and beautifully artful version of Prince's "When Doves Cry"...which Michael sang largely to only the accompaniment of the Irish percussion instrument known as a bodhran, played to great effect by Lance, a welcome newcomer to the circle of guest musicians that have joined Michael at various shows from time to time (and yes, Michael did forget a couple of the words about midway through, but shh..I won't tell if you won't...and besides, the overall effect was still fantastic)...
if you will,
Feel how it trembles
You've got the butterflies
Don't make me
Even doves have pride..."
Also fantastic was that "revised" version of "Spark" Michael began playing a few months back, supposedly happened upon as the result of a mistake when he meant to embark upon "Broken Down Fence" instead. I have a sister-in-law who has a favorite expression that says, "It was a mistake, but not a regret"...a line that comes to mind as most appropriate in regard to this matter, as although I've heard this version of the song a few times now, I'm yet to come close to getting anything near my fill of it...and daresay I enjoy it even more than the "original"...
the heart in a
Spark the dark 'til it
Spark the colors in
Spark the embers
After this came another recent composition, entitled "The Road To Abilene", for which Michael returned to the piano...
Has become your
Inside, your heart
We've been too long
...at which instrument he remained for the always amazing "Wounded"...
For you've painted it with
Switching once more to guitar, Michael then shared another new song he said he'd begun writing during a Paris vacation, and finished upon his return to the U.S., "Dimestore Mona Lisa"...
Esmeralda, for to see...
Tell me, Esmeralda...
At least, give me a clue...
About whether you choose your
Or does your life choose you?"
Obviously, I don't know what
answer Esmeralda gave him to the question that last song posed, but personally
my answer would be "both" -- in other words, while indeed you choose
certain aspects of your life, there are also times you unexpectedly find
yourself in a place that seems to have instead chosen you...maybe sometimes even
a place "20 Miles South of Nowhere". However, even there I'd say
it's pretty much your choice how to react to such a discovery....
She referred to me
She was beautiful
On a more definitive note, the next song shared a conclusion of which Michael seemed much more certain...a truth he learned by traveling "Around The World"...
been in books,
I've rubbed elbows with
I've jettisoned with the
I've flown over six of
I had to travel around the world
Clearly, however, there remain other questions and mysteries that haunt this artist's soul, including those explored in the itself haunting "Can't Sleep Tonight"...
I wonder if it's because
I'm thinkin' about the
I wonder where did
I wonder what it is
I can't sleep tonight...
I wonder if it's because..."
In his characteristic fighting spirit, however, Michael rallied from these dark ponderings to set off once more for a place of hope and restoration, a place glimpsed in a soul behind eyes of "Bourbon Blue"...
Downward I was
I'll keep holdin' on
For my bourbon blue..."
...a place he concluded could only be attained by "A Closer Walk With Thee"...
"Just a closer walk with thee,
Grant it, Jesus, if you please...
I'll be satisfied as long
As I walk, dear Lord,
Close to thee."
...a walk Michael apparently wouldn't be satisfied without embarking upon immediately, as even before the song was over he leapt from the stage and sauntered off -- with the voice of his amazing soul still ringing out in the dark of the Schubas night...
But, wouldn't you know, the aspect of life that "chooses you", or rather, that chose Michael to be an artist, brought him back into the light a few hours later at another venue, where he (and Lance, TJ and Paul Fitzpatrick) joined the band performing there for a few additional tunes...
And, of course, before it was all over, I again sought out a photo reminder of having been in this great artist's company on this amazing night...
Oops...wrong picture! Actually, however, this one features another great Chicago area friend who was named for a great artist (Vincent Van Gogh). Ah well, it seems I'll have to do a little more thorough photo sorting before preparing the page that will be coming soon to recap night two of the "Schubas December McDermottfest"! In the meantime...
As always, for everything,
Thank You, Michael!!
(And, I warn you, Chicago...
I'll Be Back!!!)