While we still get out and see our share of shows, LPD and I realized there have been a number of subtle changes to the experience over the years. For instance, more often than not, the shows we get tickets for tend to be billed as "An Evening with [insert band name here]," as if we were taking in a PBS figure skating exhibition. Case in point: We headed out to "An Evening with the Waterboys" at the Berklee Performance Center to rock out to the Celtic anthems of our youth.
On the drive into town, we noted another subtle change, this time in the way the city's skyline looks from the south. As we exited 93, we marveled at how the Belvedere building resembles a massive Stormtrooper's head eclipsing the Pru tower. Captivated by this sight, we nearly rearended a Lexus on the off-ramp.
The show may be billed differently these days but preshow is just as important as it's always been. Heading up Mass Ave, we exchanged ETA calls with the rest of the concert crew. Jen & Matt were already at Match, our preshow destination, ordering up some miniburgers (that tasted like hotdogs.) LPD and I were looking for a parking space when we got the call from Mike, et al who’d just entered the city limits.
“Where are you guys?”
“We’re just passing Best Buy on Newbury St.”
“What? Best Buy! Where is that?”
“It’s the old Tower Records.”
"The Virgin Megastore.”
“That’s a Best Buy, now? Jesus.”
Indeed there was something unsettling about this behemoth of a Best Buy on the corner of Newbury and Mass Ave., kind of like a Walmart on the Boston Common. Which is why we took a photo of it; we were not sure it would actually show up on film. Not so subtle changes on this city block. Less than a year ago, we'd meet at “Blue Cat” by the Virgin Megastore. Now it's “Match” by the Best Buy. This is exactly why we insist on referring to places and landmarks by their most familiar incarnations, like Harborlights and Great Woods. Tower Records, etc.
One thing that has not changed: Some people turn into self-absorbed jerks when it comes to securing a parking spot. LPD and I swung down the Newbury extension where we ran into a sidestreet traffic jam caused by some idiot who was parked in the middle of the road, on his cellphone, waiting to get into the Harvard Club’s parking garage. He just sat there blocking the street as eight, nine, ten cars backed up, all the while ignoring the chorus of horns and hand gestures rising behind him. We sat there for eight full minutes, all too aware the only thing separating us from our pre-show cocktails was this ignorant butthead. Thunderclouds appeared over LPD’s head in the passenger seat. She jumped out of the car with tiny fists of fury and marched up to the driver, pointing out the traffic jam born of his own rudeness. Still on the phone, the driver swung in an inch or so to let the caravan of cars edge past him. Everyone booed as we passed by (including a Condi Rice look-a-like with steam coming out of her ears behind the wheel of a Suburban). LPD shook her fist out the window, “You IDIOT!”
(Don't mess with Mama)
We rounded the corner onto Comm Ave and the clouds lifted. A light from above, a divine streetlight, glowed down upon a metered parking spot right by the Elliot Hotel. The gift of time, returned to us.
At last, we joined everyone at Match, Burgers & Martinis, where this group of seasoned concert veterans couldn't find out if there was an opening band or not. It suddenly dawned on us all at once that “An Evening with the Waterboys” was likely just that. We quickly settled up, bolted over to Berklee and slid into our seats, 30 minutes tardy.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Mike Scott appeared to be dedicating songs to the Burmese government.
“OH. This is not good.”
Nothing brings down a show faster than the details of the military junta offensive against civilians in Eastern Burma.
Wait, isn't it Myanmar? I thought it was Myanmar.
Does it matter?
Important world issues should be discussed in a proper forum; we just didn't think that forum should necessarily be here on this "Evening with the Waterboys" where people have come to distract themselves from the world's horrors. Luckily Mike Scott, a natural storyteller, lightened up and carried the show higher and higher with each song and anecdote, far, far away from Myanmar and back to Mass Ave. A headbanging fiddler and a keyboardist who resembled Ozzy Osbourne backed him up with much fervor. It was so evident that these guys love what they do, they love the music and to perform and their energy was infectious. They even did some straight-up dance numbers, busting into irish jigs during “When will we be Married” and “Raggle Taggle Gypsy." Scott also performed a spastic jazzercise beneath some strobe lights during one lyric-free jam. You know you’ve seen a good show when you don’t recognize half the songs but you’re blown away by all of it and can’t wait to go home and download the new tunes immediately. (New downloads: “Love will Shoot you Down” “She Tried to Hold me” and "Sustain” -- all very good but so much better live.) Of course, the old favorites, sublime: “Whole of the Moon,” “Killing my Heart,” “The Pan Within.” They ripped through two encores, including “Fishermen’s Blues” and a swing-out cover of Johnny Mercer’s “Accentuate the Positive.” You could tell the band didn’t want to leave the stage, and the crowd didn’t want them to either.
Alas, the houselights inevitably came up and we spilled out onto the sidewalk, giddy in our exceeded expectations, recapping among the throngs. Rare is the show these days that can turn a bunch of jaded old fools into born again rookies. This one did just that.
LPD and I even got the water giggles on our (very silly) ride home. Absolutely giddy over our "Evening with the Waterboys," we headed back to the burbs, blaring Kanye West:
“LPD, you can be my Black Kate Moss tonight.”
Good times, all!