There are memories in music that we all hold dear and drift off into. I sit currently listening to Radiohead's "How to Disappear Completely" (off of Kid A, an album I have only recently been able to get all the way through and still enjoy), and I think about all of the moments and feelings in life. There is something in music that takes us to these places, to the people, and to these events.
I'm not here
This isn't happening
I'm not here, I'm not here
In a little while
I'll be gone
The moment's already passed
Yeah, it's gone
Sitting, waiting, wondering... what brings us to these memories. With Radiohead, it's all about alienation and loneliness, but with the Polyphonic Spree, it's all of the opposite things - even in the darker songs ("It's the Sun"). When I think of the happiness, I think of one of the first songs I ever gave to my wife. And even if she didn't appreciate the long flowing robes and the choruses and Tim Delaughter's voice, there is something beautiful in the lines of "Younger Yesterday," which makes me feel good about life, and that's what I'm focusing on as I write this now (even if I'm listening to words that are so far from it):
Cause together we can make it great
Now we know, were beautiful we've always wondered
No we know, together were alright
Now we know, were beautiful we've always wondered
Now, we know, with everyday, everyday is a fight
You will make it right
You were misunderstood
The world wants
You to make it right
We were misunderstood
The world wants love
This concert review included after this was originally written in 2007 after the Polyphonic Spree Show at the Theater of Living Arts in Philadelphia.
Before the finale of Happy Birthday to some lucky gal getting serenaded and somewhere during the eternally beautiful encore, Tim Delaughter said it best - We needed this. It was a sentiment that he repeated over and over during the night, and somehow, he and his 20+ bandmates also realized that something special was going on here.
In the wait for the show to go on, I moved back towards the soundboard just to be out of the crowd. The show moved slowly through a song I didn't recognize and then went into John Lennon's "Gimme Some Truth" with words flashed on a red sheet that blocked the instruments from being seen by the audience.
When the song finished, a long artsy solo came on as Delaughter cut through the curtain to reveal the band. I was standing in the back wondering what the hell was going on, vaguely aware that the Polyphonic Spree has an incredible live reputation, but at the same time, I've been jaded by standard fare concerts and live music from bands that do it all the same way in a manner that has been done before.
Hell, it's been 40 years of rocking the house if VH1's Monterey Music Festival video is to be believed.
But then they finished the solo and the lights went on to reveal the band, and WOW!!!
They burst into The Fragile Army's energetic turn and then did both parts of "Hangin' Around the Day." By the time "Hangin' Around the Day" was in motion, I was up front jumping and singing along. In that, I apologize to those people that had to hear my out of tune voice, but alas, it's been a long time since I've had this incredible feeling inside me from seeing a concert. Something like that feeling when you're falling in love or watching a certain home run in 1998 or being in the presence of natural beauty, the movements of Delaughter and the 7 beautiful women behind him belting out harmonies and dancing and moving as the 2 drummers, guitarists, bassists, harp player, brass section, flute player, pianists and string players move in time and feel the vibe of summer's joy served up eternally for all to see forever, and it is (in the words of a former English teacher of mine) won-der-ful!!
At many shows, the fans are left to lose classics in favor of the new album of sub-standard fare, but here, the only song missing was "Soldier Girl." However, for at least a 20 minute version of "When the Fool Becomes a King" segueing into "Together We're Heavy" (off the disc of the same name) complete with solos AND a 5 minute freeze where the band held still and Delaughter went around trying to spook them or make them play their instruments as if he was the puppet master was intense.
Of the new album, the best tracks were "Running Away" and "Younger Yesterday," which is truly the happy track of the summer, which featured the lyrics "Now you know, you're beautful, you always were!!" as it fills up your ears and heart with its joyous melody.
The whole new album features shorter songs that are way more upbeat, but still hold true to the Polyphonic Spree's style of deviating and moving all over the place. Some songs are more female fronted, but no matter what they do, it just comes out amazingly.
And just as Delaughter said that they needed this, so did I. Not just to get over the hump of a frustrating week or a drought of great live shows (I've seen very good - but since 1992, I haven't seen one this good). The signing on the new CD at the end was sweet, but it was more about the vibe of the show.
Sometimes, we all just need that happiness.
And so, for the hundreds of shows I've seen in the last 25 years, the new top 5 is this:
1. Fugazi at the Norwich Waterfront 1992: the show rocks, I sit on the stage, and we meet the band afterwards, but my friend's camera screws up and no pictures exist.
2. Nine Inch Nails at the London Marquee 1991: Incredible Pretty Hate Machine gig that ends with the destruction of the set.
3. Ramones at the Silo 1989: last show before the Air Force. All my friends are there and everyone is blown away by the sound between the 1,2,3,4's!!!!
4. Lemonheads at the Norwich Waterfront: Made better for 2 reason A) Evan Dando became a stoner loser that screws up all of his shows and B) because I went to see them on Lovey, but had to catch a train back before the band hit the stage. But then again, let's not forget, this is where I met Evan and got my picture with his goofy ass.
and replacing Ben Folds Five at the Electric Factory in Philly 1997 (with its "kick ass" jam and so many great songs from those 2 amazing albums that started off Ben Folds Five's career), Polyphonic Spree at the Theater of Living Arts in Philly June 2007.