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HIAS Benefit - 2/23/11

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Listening to these songs now! AAh! Dying a little bit over here! She sang Ain't no cover in a lower key - because of the sickness?

Oh Marcello! Small town moon! Holocaust Deniers/Ink Stains! IiiiH!

"I tell you, you're not dying" and not "until you are not dying" on Firewood... =)

I wonder if she would have resurrected Oh, Marcello! if serge hadn't put up that old recording (when was it?) a year ago...? Maybe she had thought about it for along time and finally found it. Maybe she has been playing it for herself for years or maybe she relearned it from that one recording that she just happened to stumble upon.

Here's a video of On the Radio

. This guy/girl had pretty great seats...

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It’s been dead around here lately so I thought about not writing this post, but then I remembered my signature and realized that I should write it regardless of who else is around to give a crap. So here it goes...

Thursday was quite a day. Now that I’m attempting to be a responsible adult who has a big girl job, and people depending on me, it feels more painful to cut out on a weekday. But the reality is that my reg devotion remains, no doubt, extreme enough for me to unapologetically take half a day off work, practically shove my 12:00 patient out the door, dress up in the most formal Jewish-looking outfit I could, and then drive for upwards of 5 hours to get to the city. Most of my staff found the concept moderately insane and utterly impractical, but highly amusing to say the least.

After safely reaching Manhattan and meeting up with as many stixers as could be found in the unseasonably-warm February evening outside the venue, we went inside and were transported up to the very fancy venue by elevator. The HIAS organizers were providing info about the work that they do, replete with pamphlets and the like. Said pamphlets were graciously accepted since their covers were swathed in dazzling photos of regina’s face. The elegance of the evening was even more apparent upon entering the theater itself, which, while large, felt intimate, particularly from my seat in the 5th row with a view that could not have been more perfect. My heart already pounding, I realized that I was literally seated in the "family section" right next to regina’s grandparents. Regina’s dad, all in black and looking busy, came over and had a dialogue with them in Russian. Meanwhile, security, though dressed classily, was already thrashing anyone who dared to produce a camera, even to photograph the empty stage. After a bit more time sitting there, waiting in anxious awe of this whole thing, two HIAS representatives entered the stage to introduce the event. We were then shown a brief video presentation about HIAS, chronicling the stories of people who had been helped by the organization and how the society continues its mission. Interesting yes, but in that moment I doubted that any important information was going to penetrate my overwrought mind. For one thing, I was purely amazed that I was sitting in Lincoln Center, doing this at all. For another, it’s obvious, I shouldn’t have to say that I was insanely excited, totally electrified at the prospect of seeing regina for the first time in months...9 whole months... and somewhere, deep down, there was this tiny gnawing part of my brain, that I hate even to acknowledge, that was utterly terrified. It’s been so long...so much time... such huge events since then... God only knows... Was she still going to be Regina? MY regina?

And in an instant there she was scurrying onto the stage, through the hail of applause, and accidentally sitting at the piano before realizing she wasn’t really supposed to doing that. Wearing a black dress with white patterning and black boots, ok, she sure looked like Regina, I exhaled. Quickly altering her position, she took up the microphone and began to sing Ain’t No Cover. Yes...this feels familiar, yet overly surreal. I was shaking; in fact, I may have floated off and left my body entirely during that first song, but I can’t be sure. I was grateful when she sat and began to play Small Town Moon. I adore that song, and I’ve missed it since it went out of her popular rotation. The first half of this show, quite possibly, may have been the best I have ever witnessed. For the first 6-8 songs Regina played, I, like the rest of the audience, was utterly transfixed. My own muscles rigid and unmoving, I wasn’t sure if anyone in the room was even breathing. Exquisite silence fell each and every time between the final notes of the song and the audience’s applause. Not only was the audience insanely well behaved, but regina was playing incredibly. I recall, at some point, noticing and absolutely luxuriating in the fact that she was playing every song so slowly and thoughtfully. Almost too slowly. Her mouth moving very deliberately to the specifically measured distances from the microphone required to make certain things sound just exactly so. Her eyes remained either closed or vacant, even when directed toward the audience they appeared to be looking into another world entirely. On the other hand, my eyes burned unblinkingly and occasionally half-full of tears directly into her as she played. On some level I was aware that unusually stunning lighting schemes were accompanying her music, but up until she played Baobabs I literally saw nothing but regina and the piano. Which brings me to the one thing I found slightly odd: To me, this event seemed extra fancy. Therefore, and especially being in New York, a larger piano seemed warranted. This piano was like her regular touring size; which there is nothing wrong with at all mind you. But, for example, for Live in London she had that mega-massive size Steinway. This venue and event were at least as, and probably more so, extravagant than that. Meaning grander size= totally justified. Not complaining, just wondering (maybe it’s too hard to get it all the way up 6 floors, who knows) . Whatever the size, at least the piano was facing the "right" way and close to the front of the stage. (Unlike at the Beacon, where it was 10 miles away and overly difficult to see her.)

Anyway, I’m still picking my brain to decide whether or not I’ve ever heard Baobabs played live before. Regardless, it seemed like a treat. Then, Oh, Marcello! I think I melted into a puddle of shock and wonderment. It was just awesome. During Poor Little Rich Boy, I finally felt the tension breaking. Banging on that chair with a drumstick, Regina’s face confirmed that she was having fun. Deliberately pouting her lips, she was giving us a show. Of course, the mess-ups during Music Box were as endearing as ever. However, One More Time With Feeling now makes me feel so bi-polar and my guts twist inside of me. I love(d) it with the burning passion of 1000 suns, and now, to me, it seems mild to moderately destroyed. My heart leapt when I realized, OMG it’s just her! no drums to wreck it! And to me, it was better than it’s been in a long time, but it’s not the same. I think it’s never going to be the same...and I am crushed. On the other hand, Ink Stains was even more pristine and beautiful and terrible than ever. The song makes me feel so masochistic, compelled to subject myself to this awful thing like I deserve it as punishment for the transgressions of humanity, but at the same time it’s beautiful. Very confusing. Shortly after that, regina finally broke out the only previously unheard item on the setlist. I listened intently, not understanding even one single word of it, but it didn’t matter. Full blown love, methinks, to listen to something that has no literal meaning to me and find it just as captivating as any other of her songs. Yes she really is THAT good. At some point the thought crossed my mind- hey, she could be singing anything right now...she could be praising murder and cannibalism for all I know. but she’s not, I TRUST her (plus her grandparents are right beside me and not outraged, lol). She wonders sometimes why people want to know HER, who she is or whatever. Well this is an example of why. Finally after much more coughing and more mistakes in Human of the Year, she thanked her parents. It was so utterly adorable and heart melting, everyone applauded. Finishing off with the standard popular favorites she enunciated the word Radio in On the Radio so differently than ever before, and I kinda liked it. Plus, that night, I thought some new thoughts about the context of that song which seems like a valuable thing to have happen. Around Encore time, I heard the first and only request shout out, which was for Us. Regina didn’t oblige.

It was truly a great show, despite all her sickeness and coughing. It was the best kind of show, the seated respectful kind. A show with no insufferable opener or interminable waiting, just regina and the piano. She didn’t play any "new album songs" or at least not new songs from the new album and that’s ok. I think it means we have something else to look forward to- another awesome New York show in the not so distant future.

Afterwards, the VIP reception was hardly VIP. Free drinks and desserts, yes. But I saw exactly zero people that I would consider very important. Regina certainly wasn’t back there, nor was Jack, or anybody else from her family that I saw. There were people from the HIAS video though, score! Hahaha

I didn’t stay too late since I had to drive the 5 hours back home in order to make it to work in the morning. I tell you, it was a blast traversing through rain, sleet, snow, blizzard, WHITEOUT...going 30mph on the highway seriously?!?! Ahhhh!!! Yeah, no regrets though. Even when I could no longer see the road pavement markings, if I squinted my eyes just so, I could still make out Regina sitting at that piano amidst the white oblivion of snowflake knives rushing into my windshield. My heart was full. Nothing was going to bring me down.

PS- Throwing out random questions and ideas

1. regarding the ink stains lyrics:

drenched in blood up to your blue jew eyeballs

and God in his almighty -?-?-?-

may somehow grant an open season

on the holocaust deniers

I've thought that word was wisdom. My very initial thought was that it was whistle because she really DOES NOT make a "D" sound in it. However, the word definitely isn't whistle; she does make a distinct "M" sound at the end of it. At this point I'm inclined to think the lyric is WINSOME. Thoughts???

2. Oh, Marcello! Regina revitalized it, we recorded it, now who has any idea what it's about??? feel free reply to MY POST from 2010 if you'd like.

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I'm so glad you decided to post, Jamie! I really enjoyed reading! =) Did you hear the "I tell you" in Firewood btw? Or have you always heard it?

Very good story, and I was wondering how you could have a recording since you said you weren't going. I should have known better than to think you would actually stay home :P

I'm happy for you and wish I could've been there. So glad it was as awesome as it was. Kinda refreshing that she didn't play Us actually. It would have been even more so if she wouldn't have played Samson in the encore...maybe. But I guess people would've been way too disappointed.

edit: and I answered the post in the Lyrics section.

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So well written. My much older eyes and ears, sitting about two dozen rows behind you, saw and heard much the same things, with many similar feelings. For me, it had been even longer since I last saw her play and then briefly at the memorial for Dan Cho in Williamsburg.

I thought the piano was the right size for the hall and given the absolutely perfect acoustics, its richness was beyond anything I have heard recorded.

I am certain the word is "wisdom" btw.

I hesitate ever to try to interpret Regina since she, rightly so, believes the meaning of the words should be divined by the listener (or reader) and their author permitted to stand by what has been sung or written.

To me, then, the idea of God as the Almighty Witness reminds me of a sort of horrible prayer Jews say during the High Holy Days generally called the Unetane Tokef. This little soul bearing ditty describes God as the witness of all that takes place so that He may judge us between Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur and determine whether we will live yet another year. When you are eleven years old, as once I was, that kind of thing can keep you up at night.

Many of us have rebelled at this barbaric concept, but it doesn't seem all that out of place for the deniers of the holocaust. They can deny it all they want; God knows better.

For the rest of us, the prayer---at least the Reform Jewish version of it with which I am familiar, tells us that "repentance, prayer, and charity temper judgment’s severe decree" which is at least something....

quote:
Originally posted by dentistgirl:

It’s been dead around here lately so I thought about not writing this post, but then I remembered my signature and realized that I should write it regardless of who else is around to give a crap. So here it goes...

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The people who paid for VIP tickets were likely hoping that Regina would be there, but I kinda figured she wouldn't be. Before I purchased my tickets I asked the organizers if she would be attending, and their response was "we're hoping she will attend". Seeing as I was already on an extremely tight budget, I decided that I couldn't risk it. I'm sure it would've been hard for her to attend being so sick and all.

Did anyone spot Macaulay Culkin at the show? He was apparently there, because I ran into him outside smoking. Very cool.

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Is this close enough? I overheard someone pointing out Culkin. I generally looked in that direction, saw nobody I recognized and then continued out to Columbus Circle looking for a cab.

quote:
Originally posted by makingstuffup:

The people who paid for VIP tickets were likely hoping that Regina would be there, but I kinda figured she wouldn't be. Before I purchased my tickets I asked the organizers if she would be attending, and their response was "we're hoping she will attend". Seeing as I was already on an extremely tight budget, I decided that I couldn't risk it. I'm sure it would've been hard for her to attend being so sick and all.

Did anyone spot Macaulay Culkin at the show? He was apparently there, because I ran into him outside smoking. Very cool.

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quote:
Originally posted by dentistgirl:

quote:
Originally posted by makingstuffup:

Did anyone spot Macaulay Culkin at the show? He was apparently there, because I ran into him outside smoking. Very cool.

Was his hair really long?

Nope. Short and blonde. He was looking really gaunt.

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