While doing a few dishes this evening and some mental planning for this weekend's visit by Dr. Rush, I had a good memory of our 1998(?) spontaneous performance of Boston's "More Than a Feeling" at the IASPM-US conference at UCLA. It became somewhat legendary thanks to Dr. Rush's impassioned and spot-on impersonation of Brad Delp, Boston's lead singer. "That was a great moment," I thought to myself, and immediately set about thinking of other such moments in my musical life. So, here in no particular order, are six. You should consider this a meme...
1. Performance of "More Than a Feeling" (1998) – I think Dr. Rush or Amper7sand reintroduced me to the transcendent glory of Boston's three worthwhile songs ("MTaF", "Peace of Mind", "Foreplay/Long Time"), and the three of us, plus Cute Kurt on bass, had been jamming on MTaF for a few weeks at rehearsals in Riverside. Anyway, during the opening reception at the IASPM-US conference there were instruments available for an open jam and after a bunch of Chuck Berry, etc covers featuring Dr. Baur on drums and Steve Waksman on bass, I grabbed one of the guitars and started in on the opening of MTaF, just to see if anyone would follow along. I was pleasantly surprised when Baur, a child of the 70s, and Waksman started following along. Surprised because Boston at an academic pop-music conference was (and still is) a bit declassé. But they kept going! And they -- holy crap -- knew the song. And -- holy crap -- they knew the weird bit at the end of the chorus. And -- holy crap -- they knew it right now. Transcendence during the really high vocal bit and guitar solo followed and then big cheers from the assembled musicologists. I think Waksman and some other guys then went into "God Save the Queen," which totally rocked.
2. Performance of Megadeth's "Holy Wars...The Punishment Due" (2004) – I've written about this gig before. Still can't believe I played so many notes.
3. Singing along with thousands of strangers to Dream Theater's "The Spirit Carries On" (2000). At the Palace in Hollywood during DT's tour supporting their Scenes From a Memory album, the fire marshall pulled the plug on the show (overcrowding) just as this song was getting started. As this was a concept album, we didn't get to hear the end of the album's "story". While the crowd sang along with the first verse, the P.A. was cut and singer James Labrie left the stage. Then the crowd continued singing, straining to hear the guitars that were being played through only their onstage amps. Finally the power to the backline was cut, but we all kept singing. It's a cheesy lyric, in no way my favorite song from that album, but it was quite something that night and it's turned into something of a revival-style moment in the set in later years on subsequent tours. After clearing the theatre, we were met by a battalion of L.A.'s finest in full riot gear and the night went down hill from there...
4. Leading the IASPM-US house band ("The Roadcrew" -- after the Motörhead song, natch) at the 2003 conference at UCLA. With the legend of MTaF still present in my mind, I set out to top it with more fun performances of classic rock songs at academic conferences. So, I recruited four other grad students and came up with four tunes easily learnable by those fine musicians. I made strategic cuts to the songs (mostly second verses and long intros) to keep the crowd interested. Better still was the fact that they could all sing harmony vocals, which made the song selection straightforward. We actually rehearsed for a couple of weeks before the opening reception of the conference. While this performance was far more planned it seemed to get a good reception, and I remember feeling incredibly proud that it all came off. Our set: Boston, "Peace of Mind" (wanted to reestablish the Boston thing), Kansas, "Carry On Wayward Son" (learned to love this tune during the Mirror Image days), Cheap Trick, "Dream Police" (contrast the theatrical middle section with the huge pop of the chorus!), The Cure, "Just Like Heaven" (I actually had to sing this one...), and Poison, "Talk Dirty to Me" (a fun way to make the crowd roll their eyes at first, but then be impressed by how tight you pull it off!).
5. KISS day, 1996. Having worked with Erich and Chris from Mirror Image for several years, and been sucked into KISS-dom by them, I'd enjoyed learning quite a few of their classic tunes. Thus, I was excited to go with everyone to see the big KISS reunion tour, where they put the make up back on and did the whole stage show from 1977-1978. With the concert that evening, a large group of us gathered at Chris' house for an all-day pre-party featuring bootleg KISS videos on all the TVs, every bit of KISS memorabilia they owned on display, and of course our instruments. What followed was about 90 minutes of any KISS song we could think of. I had spent the weekend before woodshedding the first five albums as best I could since I wanted to pull out some really obscure stuff, but we mostly stuck to the classics like "Detroit Rock City," "Cold Gin," "Love Gun," "Strutter," "Come On and Love Me," and "Rock and Roll All Nite." Then four of them did their KISS make up and got into the Dressed to Kill outfits and we took the limo to the show. It was great. Kim's Pat vomited out the back door window on the way home, so it was totally rock-n-roll.
6. Singing solo in Tosca (2006). I've written about this one, too. Suffice it say it still makes R3P roll her eyes in mock disgust that I turned out to the professional opera singer in the household!
Posted: Tuesday - December 11, 2007 at 08:54 PM