Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tom Waits — Atlanta, GA

05-Jul-2008, Atlanta
Fox Theatre

Even Waits needs to celebrate Independence Day... and with the generous offer of a stellar pair of Raindogs Tom and Sherry, we celebrated the holiday halfway between Birmingham and Atlanta, in a town called Oxford, AL. It was one of the best 4th of Julys I've ever had!

So after a wake-up in our rented motor lodge, we were once again on the road to Atlanta.

It's very clear that Tom cares about his fans. Even the ones that are still outside waiting to enter, as it became very evident this show wasn't going to start on time. No matter—none of these shows started at 8:00 PM. I'm cool and the gang with that. But for the punctual, I think there were some slight grumblings that he didn't start at the scheduled time.

For the show to be a tour closer, I was halfway expecting a slightly different show, but looking back, it was not much of a departure from previous stops along the way. But, it's still Tom, and sharing the room with such a commanding presence is reason enough to drive 6 hours.

I would be remiss in failing to mention the sax player Vincent Henry, who quite literally "doubled on sax" as he skillfully played two at a time during several points of the night. He was also behind the harp and could certainly give a Mr. Musselwhite a run for his money when it comes to playing harmonica.

Casey Waits has certainly matured as a drummer in the last two years. He was, in fact, the only returning member of this incarnation of the band. Waits' rhythm and tempo changes are frequent and can often change at abrupt moments during any given song, and Casey followed along near flawlessly as his father played the role of conductor, often giving very slight body movements as visual clues to the musicians.

All in all, this band played very very well together. Though I have never witnessed a searing Marc Ribot guitar solo, I find myself very content with the musicians Tom picked for his touring ensemble. It's the mark of a good band leader to surround himself with good musicians, and I applaud his choices.

Oh, one other thing... the version of "Eyeball Kid" played in Atlanta featured a brilliant mime of Tom plucking his own eyeball from its socket and tossing it up in the air. The band, who certainly had rehearsed this—they were spot on—provided sound effects to the playful tossing, juggling, and yo-yo-ing of the imaginary eyeball. At someone's shouting: "Go DEEP!" Tom did indeed throw the eyeball wayyy into the audience, and just as a yo-y0 would behave, pulled back on an imaginary string to retrieve the thing. It was brilliant, and brought a lot of laughs.

[edit: Here's a great video of Tom doing this bit in Paris.]

And while the tour has been over for me for a number of days... I still find myself thinking back to this final night, when all was seemingly right with the world. From the anticipation leading up to the show, to meeting 'dogs from all over the world, there was certainly no place I would have rather been on this night.

Sadly the road called me home, and quite possibly with the divine help of a tiny, bonafide St. Christopher, (courtesy of Dorene — It's still riding with me, too!) I chased storms all the way back to North Carolina.

Till next time...

Atlanta Setlist:

Lucinda / Down to the Well
Down in the Hole
Falling Down
Chocolate Jesus
All the World is Green
Cemetery Polka
Cause of it All / 'til the Money Runs Out
Such a Scream
Hold On
Black Market Baby
9th and Hennepin
Lie to Me

(at piano)

Lucky Day
On the Nickel
Lost in the Harbour
Innocent When you Dream

(off piano)

Hoist that Rag
Make it Rain
Dirt in the Ground
Get Behind the Mule
Hang Down Your Head
Jesus Gonna Be Here


Eyeball Kid (w/ mime)
Anywhere I Lay My Head
Once again... this set is courtesy of the inimitable Raindog-of-the-Year in my book, Shane C. via The Eyeball Kid.

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