Friday, October 2, 2009

spiritually baptised at the church of Rock

Well now. It seems I was right. I absolutely was meant to go to the Pixies, it was exactly where I was meant to be. And Andrew, my knight in a crumpled t shirt, messaged me to say there were still tickets available for Friday night (I didn't even know there was a Friday night gig). And then when I the Ticketmaster site told me no tickets were available, he bought some for. An act which left me feeling significantly taken care of.

And if I was grateful then, there are no words to how I feel now.


I went to check lost property before the gig, and went the wrong way, serendipitously, as we bumped into Mark McKinney, and old friend from way back in my youth, who has the sweetest smiling face and gives the best hugs of anyone. Always did, from back when we all used to hug each other all the time. So meeting him tonight, to grin with him in delight at where we were, it was just right.

The Circle filled up with people and the atmosphere was abuzz, tingling with delighted anticipation. It should have been a musical, we could have burst into songs of praise and elation.

And then the man who wrote the soundtrack of my teenage years walked into one of the boxes and sat down, all alight and aglow, leaning over the balcony with the same elated grin on his face that I could feel stretching my own. And everything from 1991 fell into place.

There was a wall of Marshall amps promising NOISE and the excitement and anticipation was thick enough to touch.

And they came on, to rapturous applause, living legend-Frank Black Frank Black-shaped and mooby in a baggy black t shirt, Kim Deal strangely gay-momish but still absolutely Kim Deal, and Joey Santiago as cool as ever and Dave Lovering all tall and older but the same.

And oh my god. They did four B sides, and I started wondering how I was going to stay seated. People were popping up around the place. The row behind the row behind me were standing, but the row behind me were all sitting down. Girls. I said to Axel that I didn't think I could sit still, and being the repressed Irish Catholic he is, he warned of blocking the view of the people behind.

Then they started into Doolittle, and after one song of ants in my pants I turned to the two girls behind me and asked them what their feelings on standing were.

'We really want to, but we're not brave enough!' they sang in lilting Cork accents.


'Ok, so if I stand up, then you'll have to, right?'

And I bounced to my feet and danced til the end, interrupted occasionally by the ladies' enthusiastic thanks and well wishing. I couldn't stop grinning, the happiness spilled like high beams through my mouth and eyes and ears.

It's been years, so many years, since I danced my way through a gig, and got red faced and sweat soaked and filled from top to toe with warm musical glee. I'm sorry to anyone who doesn't know Doolittle , who didn't grow up with it ingrained in them, who don't hail the Pixies as the parents of modern rock... this babble and gush of exuberant hero worship, but stay with me.

It's the twentieth anniversary (!) of the seminal album's release, hence the tour that started in Dublin. I don't remember finding the band, though this is the first album I heard. It feels like they have always been. My cousin's parents listened to a wide range of music, though the Cowboy Junkies and Kris Kristofferson were more their thing, and they bought Doolittle by accident, thinking the Pixies were a folk group (hee). I think they turned it on, then turned it off in horror. And my cousin found it and was blown away, gobsmacked, transported.

And to hear it live, undiluted by fresh air, or distance, or distractions. To be in a relatively small place, close enough to see the band's expressions, being part of the besotted, transported crowd... I can't explain it enough.

I may have been creaky of hip and sadly distracted by my upper arm fat scraping off my underwire in the confines of the Olympia's close seating space, but I still came out feeling like this again: 18, at Christmas time.

There was about a year or so when I was cute, but I didn't really know it...

They played and played, all the songs that are melted perfectly into my brain and my heart. They all stay still, quite static, and out of their stillness comes this huge noise, guitar with rocks in it, massive base and solid drums, and the inexplicably weird but perfect sounds of the lyrics. Classic after classic, perfectly welcomed and understood, and nothing to do but dance and smile and feel and remember. And the two girls behind me repeatedly touched my shoulder, and my hair, and leaned in to say thanks for getting them standing, and how happy they were.

They did two encores, the crowd giving standing ovation after standing ovation - it felt so hard to show them exactly what they meant to me, to everyone, was cheering and applause enough, to demonstrate those years of meaning, and the gratitude we felt for their being there?

They played Into The White, eerie at first, until its repetitive lyrics and rhythms became lulling and meditative and I stopped thinking about anything in particular, and was just calm, and there.

And then they did Where Is My Mind, and I could see Glen Hansard across the room, blissed out heart beeting out of his shirt like a cartoon character in love, and playing along to every note in his head (The Frames used to do perfect Pixies covers) and there it was, between the stage and his enjoyment that echoed my own, there was my teen-hood being embodied right in front of me, two of the most important musical representations of everything I felt and cared about. Perfect.

And here it is, god bless technological advancement. The sound isn't good, you don't quite get the song, but you can catch a glimpse of Glen in the middle box on the left, and! it's shot from three rows behind us and you can see the back of Axel's shaved head, and mine, fleetingly, and Andrew's, with the luscious curls! And you can see the love, and the adulation, and the commitment of the whole place. So, woo, for youtube!

And even though they did two encores, it ended, after protracted applause and adulation and I was left red and sweaty and pumped and blissed out, and feeling fifteen again. In a good way. And Axel was reliving his youth as well and even capitulated when I grabbed him and wrapped myself around him and smooched him outside the theatre. I mean, what else are you going to do with all that crackling teen energy that your thirty three year old mammy-assed self hasn't felt in so fucking long?

Tired, sweaty, happy happy Jo

And home through town, with my ears not quite ringing, but full of that cotton wool feeling that represents a great concert and possible long term hearing damage, dodging the blast of god awful comedy-Dublin-modern-folk-shite singing about 'sassiges', and the D4 girl complaining in her megaphone voice about the guy who had the nerve to ask her out even though he was doing 'sober October' and wouldn't be drinking. Close your ears, keep listening to the beautiful music in your head... 'with your feet in the air, and your head on the ground...'

Bye, Pixies, byeeee, come back soon!


Ms. Moon said...

Ah- I have had life-changing times like this. Springsteen, Dylan, The Neville Brothers. There is nothing like it. I am so glad you had it, enjoyed it, danced through it. Yay for you, Ms. Forever Young Jo.

Ciara said...

What a great post Jo.

Your joy is bouncing out of my computer screen! I knew there was something I wanted to ask you when I saw you earlier!

Chris was at it the night before (1st Oct) and said he nearly cried when they started playing Doolittle. (He was there 1 Oct 1990 too.)

There is nothing, nothing that that beats that reliving your youth feeling. Wouldn't mind a dose of that meself soon!

Nick McGivney said...

Looks like you sloughed off ten thousand pounds of sludge from New York and New Jersey and emerged alive, girl. So very glad you were where you were supposed to be, although of course you were. You rock, Sleepy Jo, and not just at Pixies gigs. :)

PĂ©itseoga said...

So glad you got to go!!

Andrew said...

Oh, I've only just see this. "Knight in a crumpled t-shirt" - I'll take that.
I'm really glad you came, there was such a happy buzz about the place, nowhere more so than right beside me.

I don't generally watch people's shaky Youtube videos of gigs, but vanity requires me to now check out how my luscious curls come across on camera.

morgor said...

heh, good for you.
"where is my mind" is a cracker of a song. Don't think i came across it til i watched fight club and went "wow".

Danielle said...

couold you-please--change your name?

jothehotmama would be much more fitting..:_)

jothemama said...

That's so sweet Danielle. You're good for my dented ego.

But that would be false advertising, you can't see the rest of me in that photo. And with good reason!

Jo said...

I never answered everyone's comments on this, except for Danielle's, which seems extremely self absorbed now, worryngly!

No one will ever know, but it will make me feel better.

Thanks everyone, how sweet. I love this post, I'm so glad I wrote it down straight away and kept the memory of the energy. Your words are just as good.