Thursday, February 17, 2005

Sam Phillips at the Silverlake Lounge

This was my first trip to the Silverlake Lounge. It’s not a place I am looking forward to going back to. It’s not in the greatest neighborhood and there is NO parking. None. I parked several blocks away in a residential neighborhood and walking back to my car (hoping it was still there) at midnight was not a treat either. But more important, the stage is only about 2 feet high (and I’m being generous). Only a handful of the hundred or so who turned out actually got to see her perform. On the plus side, the sound was good; with only one feedback/hum issue during the evening.

So, Sam comes out and I can tell there is something wrong. I’m not sure if it was that the crowd pushed up close to her and her knowing that most people couldn’t see her, or if there was something personal going on. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sam wears her heart on her sleeve on stage and when things are wrong it tends to show up in different stories and some songs seeming to have a strong emotional impact on her. Right off the bat she mentions that there will be much music and much talking and hopefully we’ll be able to find “the show” in it. This reminded me a lot of her performance the night Jay had to fly off to Europe, leaving her without a drummer. This wasn’t as dramatic, but you could feel it. Sam hardly talked to the crowd after that, saving her new story for late in the show. New to the show was a cassette version of “Incinerator” but no shaking of the cassette for solo purposes. This of course meant that she would leave out “Animals on Wheels”.

The story was basically about a boss she had when she was young who believed that God talked to him. He told her that God told him that his wife was going to die and Sam was going to take her place. She asked the audience if anyone knew someone who said that God had talked to them. Someone from the audience yelled out “Bush” and Sam smiled. Now, I’m going to interpret what Sam’s point was, and excuse me if I’m a bit off, but she said something to the effect that she didn’t necessarily believe that God talked to him (and maybe anyone) but she did understand the passion that made him want to believe it. I think the reason she told the story was so that she could say that she believed in wanting to understand what can’t be understood. And I believe that led into “Sister Rosetta…”.

Only one new song this time; “Sister Rosetta Went Before Us”. Without totally ruining the song, I’ll paraphrase a bit of the lyrics which said something like: “I lost the love I never really had, but I can hear the music above my head”. Please, that is just an approximation, but you get the point. She played her two other new songs: “When You’re Down” and “Was it All in My Head”. All three will make an excellent foundation for the new CD. She also performed Tom Waits’ “Green Grass” which she did with the Section Quartet last month. I would love to see her cover it on her next CD. It really fits everything she is singing about these days.

After the show, I was chatting with her and I pulled out the set list and started saying, “What’s this? What’s this?”, poking at the sheet. She didn’t even have to look at what I was poking at. A year ago I started bugging her to play “I Need Love”. It was on the set list but was dropped. “I know. I know. I’m sorry. We were so close this time. Next time”. I’m holding her to that. 

Sam played for about 1 hour. Okay, for those interested, here is the set list:

Foolin’ Myself
Zero Zero Zero
How To Quit
All Night
I Wanted to be Alone
Fan Dance
I Dreamed I Stopped Dreaming
Taking Pictures
Soul Eclipse
Was It All in My Head
When You’re Down
Green Grass
Sister Rosetta Went Before Us
Reflecting Light
Say What you Mean
One Day Late

No new concerts are scheduled, but she will be at the next Section Quartet show on March 3rd at Largo and they could get her on stage.

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