"[This] is something better than
perfect: It's thrillingly alive."
In a local newspaper recently I came across a bit of information that is
probably common knowledge among Art History majors...and very likely of little
or no interest to the public at large. Be that as it may, it struck
me as both fascinating and yet, as I stepped back momentarily to consider what
I'd read, somehow not at all surprising. The entry simply stated:
"Renoir was nearsighted. Rembrandt was farsighted. Van Gogh had
glaucoma. Monet had cataracts."
After offering the crowd a brief, "Hello", Michael once more opened with the beautiful and meaning-filled brand new song, "One Way To Go"...
The day your flag of
The way that we were
Which way we wanted
There's only one way
One way to go from here."
...after which again came "The Darkest Night of All", for which TJ (who had been waiting contemplatively in the wings through the first song)...
...joined Michael on bass...
And I can't
Next came what a fan at a show a few months back deemed a "new McDermott classic", "The Sword of Damocles"...
the same damn battle
You don't want to leave
...and another song that could as easily share that title, "Hellfire In The Holyland"...and on this night Michael prefaced the tune by singing a heartfelt plea for "Surrender...surrender"...
"Pride's relentless stronghold
Is banished by my
This was followed by the first deviation from the setlist of the night before...an intense performance of the tortured, and yet beautifully hope-filled, "Oh Baby I"...
Anywhere that I roam,
...a place of seriousness from which Michael moved on to a bit of (albeit unexplained) levity. Prefacing the song with an outburst of the urban expression "Yo!", Michael then went into this sort of two-chord repetition reminiscent of the old Split Enz song, "I Got You"...and once he'd become all business again, if you will, still interspersed "A Wall I Must Climb" with various hip-hop style gestures. Not quite sure what that was all about, but it seemed everyone present was indeed having a good time with it...
After this, Michael announced that because someone had requested it he would "reluctantly" play the darkly humorous "Unemployed"...
"I know how to turn water to wine,
I'm filthy rich but I haven't a dime.."
again returning to a newer song I'd heard for the first time myself only the
night before. In introducing this song, Michael took a moment to explain
the inspiration behind it, a story about a family that one day, essentially
without warning or aforethought, decided to move to Abilene, TX.
Gradually, however, the carelessly positive spirit in which they had set off
became more and more eroded by the challenges of the journey... car trouble, bad
weather, "locusts" (a slight embellishment on Michael's part, I
believe...well, geez, at least I hope!). As a result of all this, finally
each character began asking why they'd come in the first place, whose idea it
had been, etc., at last arriving at the conclusion no one had an answer to these
questions. It seems they had just allowed themselves to be carried along
by what each thought the other wanted, a lack of real direction of their own,
"The moon looked like the
In an El Paso night...
Does your indecision
And leave your face
In light of such ponderous considerations, it's not hard to believe there are a lot of "insomniacs out there", and Michael therefore dedicated "Can't Sleep Tonight" to these individuals...
"This place is on
And WE built
Lord, I can't
As I'd hoped might be the case, next Michael once more included in his performance that truly amazing cover of Prince's "When Doves Cry" (and while, in light of my preface to this show regarding the word, I'd be hesitant to say this night's version of it was "perfect", I've gotta admit it came about as close to my idea of that concept as anything I've ever witnessed). And, again of course, he was so ably accompanied by Lance on the bodhran...
if you will,
Of you and I
A very rare treat (a great song he's seldom played at shows I've attended, anyway), "Bells" prompted Michael's return to the piano...
"Though the lines have been drawn,
In the breaking of the dawn,
I will cross this bridge prepared
Switching back once more to the guitar, Michael offered another bit of rueful commentary, this time about "his" notice in Entertainment Weekly...that proved instead (as he saw it anyway), pretty much a photo layout of "Johnny Rzeznik, Jakob Dylan...and Lance". Ah well, you know how these rock stars are...I swear, they've gotta be the center of attention every minute! (Only kidding, Michael!!!) Be that as it may, one of the most exemplary songs about the positive form of surrender followed..."Leave It Up To The Angels"...
"And you tell me
I've finally realized
Is to leave it up,
After this Michael noted that the next song he was about to perform had been partially written in Paris...adding with a sly grin, "It's all written in French so I have no idea what it says." Be that as it may, he was able to convey the meaning of the compelling "Dimestore Mona Lisa" pretty clearly to the audience...
"And I wake from this dream
I've been alone so long now,
Michael then noted that, as per the arrangements with the venue for both this and the prior evening's shows, he had "a curfew". Glancing at the clock, he said, "I've only got about 10 minutes more, so I'm gonna do these songs really fast." And, without any further fanfare he launched into a journey "Around The World"...
"So come down from your altar,
And, baby, I'll come down from my throne..."
...only to arrive at a destination with an apparently very damp climate, one which prompted longings he used a tune by the Eurythmics to describe. And, as a result, "Here Comes The Rain Again" proved for me yet another highlight of the show...
"I want to walk in the open wind,
I want to talk like lovers do,
I want to dive into your ocean,
Is it raining with you?"
And, on that beautiful note, Michael prepared to close the show, adding a sincere offer of thanks to Paul, the sound tech, and Mike Hanisch. Then, glancing back at the large screen (on which Mike had again projected various images to augment the performance) only to be startled by a computer-altered photo of himself that appeared in abstract-painting-like form, Michael immediately uttered (with more than a touch of dismay), "That's pretty much how I see myself every morning". Hmm, could it have been this unflattering sight that prompted such self-discontent as to make Michael once more seek "A Closer Walk With Thee", and his heading off into the night while still singing of this quest? Nah, I'd say it had a bit more to do with arguably the utmost positive form of surrender...abandonment of one's self to the "Grace of God"...
"I was blind but now I see,
I was bound, but now
I'll be satisfied as long
Once more, however, he soon reappeared to share a bit of laughter and camaraderie (as well pose for a photo or two) with fans and friends...
there's the picture with
And, on that note, I can only once more conclude...
Thank You, Michael!!
I warn you, Chicago...
I WILL Be Back!!!)
P.S. While I very much enjoy reviewing shows, and I likewise hope you enjoy reading about them, there's still nothing like experiencing them "in person". And, thanks to DCN.com you can listen to this show "live" for yourself, as it's available by following the above link as a part of their Michael McDermott archives. So, what are you waiting for. Go there NOW and listen to this great artist at work!