andreseng

2012-10-24 Beacon Theater - New York, NY

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After leaving work at 1pm and making the now-familiar, slightly-excessive 270ish mile drive, I stepped foot in Manhattan at roughly 6pm. Foreboding grey clouds hung over the city and the temperature dipped to around 60degrees, a sharp transition from the very sunny, 80 degree day I had left behind in in PA. As I strolled by the venue I took note of the upgraded digitized marquee, definitely a new development since 2009. I met up with the Brumstix contingency a few blocks away for some dinner and catching up before showtime.

Just before 8pm I entered the gold-guilded theater, and after struggling through the massive crowd inside, took my seat in the front row left. Happily, Jack had set his band up on the left for this show, so I had excellent vantage for Only Son. The re-intact band was complete with tambourine man wearing a cockeyed baseball cap and white t-shirt with a magic-marker, self-drawn, image that I must have been too far away to comprehend. Although, I won’t rule out nonsense scribbles... He was way at the back, mostly subdued. My how times have changed…. Jack’s regular keyboardist was noticeably absent, replaced by a facial-haired, jacket-with-coattails wearing guy who I’d never seen before. He was trying hard, looking at a notebook throughout the set, and did a decent job keeping it together for the most part. Although, It’s A Boy did sound mighty crazy (in a bad way) at the beginning, Jack managed to pull it together. After Only Son had finished, two guitars remained standing mid-stage for some time. One I recognized as Jack’s- although he hadn’t used it during the set. The other didn’t seem familiar. I was highly intrigued by the prospects of what might happen with those guitars later on. Unfortunately I got my answer (NOTHING), all too soon when they were cleared away before regina emerged.

Regina’s piano was, as expected, set back quiet far on the stage. I had a rather good view of her face and could see her legs (but not feet) if I sat on my heel (I spent a lot of time sitting on my heel!). The stage was high, though not as high as The Wellmont or the Lyric but nearly 4ft. So, not so hot for cameras anyway. The piano completely obliterated my view of the cellist, but I could see the drum kit wholly unobstructed, which doesn’t happen often, for me. After the obligatory wait, regina bounced out, clearly a bundle of nerves, wearing the same black and white striped lace dress from the Cleveland show. Under the immense applause of the NY audience she took up the mic and tapped out Ain’t No Cover, with still-chipping red nail polish. Afterward, she smiled and chugged water, spilling it on herself. Musing about how good it was to be home in NY, the crowd agreed shouting a variety of takes on “welcome home” to her.

When she played The Calculation, I almost cried. I love that song anyway but besides that, it and I had now come full circle back to The Beacon Theater- the place where we first met, the place where love-at-first-listen happened. haha Seems like just yesterday…sigh… She moved on to Small Town Moon and played through it quite up-tempo. Between songs countless “woos” and “I love yous” rained down from above. But, this night regina had very few words. She did, however, respond with her own haphazard “whooo” noise, which seemed like an attempt to relieve her own tension more than anything. Her anxiety was palpable as she blasted through more of the now-familiar setlist at a perceptibly rapid pace. I was hoping this speed meant she was trying to make time to incorporate something new/old/different into the setlist. But it never did come. She made several small, barely noticeable, mistakes. During How she sang “we will meet again someDAYYY” (instead of “somehow”) where that word is very drawn out. Later on she transposed the lyrics in Firewood to “don’t judge so harsh, don’t look so shocked” but again, very minor stuff! Also, I took note, she didn’t open her eyes and smile during the “welcome to the tombs” line in All the Rowboats this time.

The audience was so New York and so in love with regina. The atmosphere was mostly quiet and respectful and felt decadent. At some other shows, there’s this feeling like the “4th wall” is really a wall. There’s regina on the stage and then there’s the audience, and these two distinct factions of sound, of being, collide at the edge of the stage battling for presence. It’s not so nice. At the Beacon, where the sound is awesome to begin with, the audience was just there soaking it in, allowing regina’s sound to pass that "wal"l unobstructed, to fill the entire theater. The only negatives of the night, for me, really, were that the guy next to me kept coughing; I kept trying not to inhale his disease. And also that the venue staff was psycho vigilant about thwarting any attempts to use flash or record video. Which is annoying in and of itself (well I’m fine with them nixing flash) but it was distracting and irritating to have a bitchy black woman sitting right in front of me, just slightly to my right, FACING ME the entire night. Having her between me and regina was obnoxious enough, but to be forced to watch her get up and down like 50 times to yell at people. Just give it a rest, ughhh.

The best part of the night came, as it does so often now, just before Call them Brothers. As Jack was getting set up, regina was talking up Only Son, saying what an awesome time she’d had listening to their set and “head-banging the whole time. With clips in my hair…which is why it probably looks so weird right now.” It definitely did not look weird, but emphatically she conceded, “Fuck hair!” Ahhh, just when I don’t know how I could love her more, she says that. In a world of Kardashians and real housewives, regina is just fresh air.

Anyway… regina’s most substantial comments of the night were in the form of an anti-Romney tirade, ultimately dedicating Ballad of a Politician to him, then singing it with venom. Afterwards she dedicated Folding Chair to Leo somebody (sorry I’m completely horrible with names) for his birthday. Regina wound down with Open, getting a wrong chord in there somewhere, but the song was still totally incredible descending upon us all in that room. The Party was fun as always. Based on her expressions I tend to get this odd sense that she is singing ABOUT something/someone and we will never know. I also,still, have a difficult time rectifying the general discord between How and The Party. I felt it the very first time she played them, and even now, they just feel so grating on each other. As if, during How, she just said all this sad, sad stuff about not being able to move on, live without this person, not giving up memories, and generally being all sad and depressed and NOW in she wants us to just say fuck it and drink, run away from those memories, everyone who’s been erased, and toast to all that shit that went down??? I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to deal with this. I tell myself they’re different songs, discreet entities. And even if they’re not, it’s just like a person to be all wishy-washy and hypocritical and approach life’s problems from a different angle when whatever mood strikes. But for some reason it’s still just hard for me to sort out the whole How vs The Party scene in my head. Nonetheless, I was again pleased to experience that warm comforting sensation that accompanies the theater erupting with applause “for all the ones that we have lost.” People are listening and hearing and its MEANING something to them.

Standing ovation brought Regina back for the now-customary 4 song encore. Fidelity began with some new instrumental treatment (which started in Detroit). And Hotel Song endured an extensive mid-song messup, while the audience kept regina going. The obnoxious girl who’d been shouting requests for Samson ALL NIGHT LONG was finally appeased with the closer. Sheesh. I was very surprised that regina didn’t play anything out of the ordinary. Usually New York gets something different a tiny special throw in like maybe the Old Jacket or Ink Stains or something, but no such luck this night. Weird, but whatever.

Afterwards I noticed regina’s dad packing up a ton of equipment as the crowd carried me out of the theater. Downstairs, I was pretty surprised to see regina’s mom join us riffraff in the ridiculously long bathroom line. Really??? Hmm… Up in the lobby, we waited to talk to Jack as he was signing things for other people. When it was practically our turn in line, the same staff lady I stared at all show came over and started questioning why we were there. Are we buying merch? Do we have stickersss??? (Stickers?! Wtf…) After her continual pestering, we explained that we were waiting to talk to Jack. “Who? That guy??? Hmm…” She shoved her way over, grabbing Jack’s arm, interrupting him, “These people are waiting for YOU, and they don’t have stickers!”( good lord, what is it with the fucking stickers?! And why am I not cool enough to have one???) Jack’s just like, “uhhh ok….no problem…. hi.” Oh sooo awkward.

Clearly there was no sticking around in there so we headed outside pretty directly. The night was cool, but much nicer than the last time we waited for reg outside the beacon. They seem to have added more lights on that side of the building too. The staff outside was certainly a tad nicer than last time, though they were seriously intent on keeping us behind barriers. Wouldn't want to block all that foot traffic on the sidewalk at midnight. /annoying. At some point, we sauntered over to the back of the building, taking note of the tremendous amount of equipment from the show now lining the sidewalk. It was a ton. Seriously. I’ve never quite seen it all lined up like that. Kind of cool. Not unexpectedly we had to wait for quite some time. It wasn’t until a bit after 1am that she came out.

It was roughly 2am when I made it back to my car in Jersey and after one parking garage wardrobe change, several hundred prayers not to cream a deer with my new car, countless miles of unsightly fog, and one instance of peeing along the Appalachian trail, I made it home before 5:30am and had enough time to take a shower and sleep for an hour before going to work. Go me. Worth it? Always.

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^blurry, but i love this one!

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My first show. Can't say much since this silly hurricane has reduced me to web surfing with my phone. Suffice it to say that about 3/4 of the songs, and all the ones I liked best, I'd never heard before that night. Regina is a totally different and much deeper artist than I ever knew from what gets played on the radio. The Prayer of Francois Villon, Blue Lips, and especially, omg especially, Open left me dumbfounded with amazement. I WILL be back, as often as I can. BTW, can anybody comment on how complete/accurate the set list posted above is? I'd have liked to take one down myself, by don't know Regina's discography well enough. Thanks & see you later.

Fred

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@dentistgirl Thanks for the great writeup & pix. Friends of mine were in your row, way over to the left and without much view. Somehow I got a 7th row seat just a tiny bit to the right of center. I got some cell phone pix I can post after I get cable service back post-Sandy. About stickers: before the show there was a sign posted at the merch counter saying stickers would be for sale after the show. I had no clue what that meant; apparently it's a way the Beacon allocates artist access after shows. Never heard of such a thing, but then I rarely enter a venue seating over 200, so I don't know much about places like the Beacon.

Fred

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