Big stage. Regular-sized Neil.
Got caught up in stuffs yesterday, and didn’t get to tell you about my trip to Baltimore to hang out with my singer-songwritin’ buddy Neil Cleary, who was opening for British pop-jam-rockers Gomez at Ram’s Head.
It was a private show for the attendees of a big organic convention held at B-More’s lovely Inner Harbor. Neil and I cruised the food section, eating free samples and drinking thimblefuls of wine, which actually got us both a bit buzzed. My wagoneering has resulted in remarkably diminished tolerance. . . wonder what Neil’s excuse was? This booze booth was "manned" by a 16 year-old kid who reminded me of George Michael Bluth at the family banana stand. We really got a kick out of him.
Pre-show was a blast; I’ve known Neil for over a decade, but we rarely get much bro time. We spent a good portion of the night in the green room, passing the acoustic guitar back and forth, playing and singing everything from "I Wish I Was in Dixie" to Elvis Costello ditties. Actually, the latter were all Neil. I could only half-remember a few Beatles and Stones numbers.
At first glance, Ram’s Head seems like an odd venue, at least layout-wise. The main floor is rather small, but this is made up for by a couple of wraparound balconies, each equipped with a bar. It’s a pretty decent design; you get a clear view of the stage from just about anywhere. Queens of the Stone Age played the night before; Morrissey will be there there in a couple of weeks.
Neil’s set was great, but I ended up zoning out on the the last few tunes. This had nothing to due with his performance, but rather my embroilment in conversation with the General Manager of Music Matters — an organization which, among other eco-friendly activities, "greens up" tours by big-name and developing artists. (They were also responsible for putting together the entertainment for this particular event).
Gomez, well. . . I’m not much of a fan. English acts would be well advised to not imitate American jam bands — it just sounds forced. Their Brit-rockish stuff is OK, but there’s a "heard-it-all-before" quality to their material. Neo-hippies dig it, though. Go figure.
After the show, I had a couple more house brews, which tasted the same way going down as one imagines they would coming back up. Now that’s consistency.
I also found the bathrooms somewhat distasteful. In the men’s room was an aging black porter, working for tips. He was quite sweet, but do I really need a senior citizen squirting soap in my hands, keeping the water running and then toweling off my mitts? I’m sure it’s some kind of living, but it smacks of the kind of institutional racism I thought we had put behind us.
Here’s the opening cut from Neil’s new album, I Was Thinking of You the Whole Time. You can buy it on iTunes or what-have-you.
Guess what? Me an’ Neil found some more creepy "lifelike" sculptures! What is it with Maryland and off-putting statuary?
Neil and his partner read the riot act to a Golden Hippie.
"I’m not holding, Narc!"
"We’ve got the goods on you, Punk. Just come clean."
"I dunno. . . Maybe he’s telling the truth. . ."
"Don’t look into his eyes! Oh no — it’s too late!"