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(TV) Last night's show - Irving Plaza 3/21/2003
I agree with Dennis that last night's show was better than the first Irving
Plaza show last year. Lloyd was particular outstanding - he kept my attention
more than Verlaine for the first time. Here's my unedited run-down.
First, the truly surprising part: they are selling a live CD! It looks like a
self-pressed release ("Ohoo Music", firstname.lastname@example.org), taken from the 12/4/92
show at the Academy (NYC). I'm listening to it now for the first time; it's
hard to tell what the source is, but I think it's a high quality audience
recording. Not positive. The audience is pretty audible between tracks, and
while the recording is stereo, the band doesn't appear to be mixed into stereo.
The tracklisting: Intro/1880 or so/This Tune/Venus/Beauty Trip/No Glamour For
Willi/Call Mr. Lee/Prove It/The Rocket/Rhyme/In World/Marquee Moon.
I can't believe they finally put out a CD! Good for them. I hope they make some
$ from it and issue more discs like this in the future. I think I'll pick up a
few extra copies tonight.
They also are selling a few new t-shirts.
OK, so the show... I agree with Dennis and Tom that it was better than the
first Irving Plaza show last year. The show started much stronger than the
shows last year, with the band fully engaged, and closed much stronger too.
There was some wandering, however, in the middle, that I found kinda tedious -
more on that later.
They came on around 10 PM and played for just over 2 hours. Verlaine was more
talkative than usual (although, that's still not much). Here's the setlist of
- Intro, this time with a poem about "a little flower"
- 1880 or so. Very strong.
- Venus. Great as always.
- "Sleep All Day". This was one of the new songs they debuted a year ago.
- Prove It, with enthusiastic audience singalong on the chorus. When they
finished, there were several calls for "Foxhole". Tom finally said, "We're not
gonna play 'Foxhole', but you can yell for it all night. We love hearing your
voice." This led to "Foxhole" instantly becoming the most-requested song all
evening, with people yelling for it constantly.
- Call Mr. Lee
- A new song, I think - I never heard tapes from the Irving Plaza shows last
year, so my memory might not be perfect. Quite good. Still half-formed, like
the other new songs, with heavy riff sections mixed with quiet lyrical
sections, but I think it's my favorite of the 3 new songs right now. Tom
introduced it by saying "now it's rehearsal time, so it's a good time to go
downstairs to the bar and get a drink".
- Beauty Trip. Great as always.
- Little Johnny Jewel. This started strong, but didn't really go anywhere.
After the middle section, they didn't bother to really jump back into the main
riff (as they did in, say, Chicago 2001) but just kind of petered out. Verlaine
seemed to be losing his focus from here out.
- See No Evil
- Rocket/Rhyme/New Song ("Persia"? it has a James Bond-style riff, and I am 90%
sure they played it last year). I'll start by saying that "Rocket" and "Rhyme"
are my two least favorite songs on the 1992 record, but I always thought they
formed the centerpiece of every post-1992 show in a magnificent way - generally
much stronger live than on record. BUT, tonight wasn't one of those nights.
"Rocket" started well enough, but "Rhyme" lacked cohesion. The band segued into
one of the new songs from last year, I think, and that didn't work so well
either - I know a lot of people who went last year liked this new song, but I
find it pretty shapeless and un-engaging. Putting it in the middle of a
relatively uninspired "Rhyme" didn't help at all.
- Marquee Moon. The main body of the song was just OK. Again, Verlaine's focus
seemed to be shot; he forgot the lyric at one point and started repeating a
verse. However, as they got towards the crescendo, Verlaine had private
conversations with both Lloyd and Smith, and as a result of those
conversations, they ending crescendo was repeated several time, building in
intensity and tempo each time. It was VERY similar to what Verlaine improvised
during the breakdown at the Chicago 2001 show, which made me wonder if he's
been listening to his own bootlegs. I thought it was great in 2001, and it was
an even better way to end the song last night. It really redeemed it.
Now for the encore...
- Friction. Yes! One of my favorite Television songs ever, and I could NOT be
more psyched to see them revive this. Awesome. Just before they kicked into it,
Verlaine teased the audience by singing "Foxhole, foxhole" a few times. On the
other hand, Verlaine still seemed unfocused. He even missed a verse - the part
about the "ventriloquist". Nonetheless, Fred, Billy, and (especially) Richard
were really together, and extraordinarily tight. Fantastic. Then they segued
- Glory. Much heavier version than I've seen them do previously. Faster.
Verlaine was finally re-focusing now and singing stronger.
- Psychotic Reaction. As always, an appropriate and whiz-bang ending to a
After watching last night, I have a question for those of you who were
fortunate enough to see Television in their 1976-78 heydey. I've seen
Television four times now - once in 2001, twice in 2002, and last night. Every
time, I get the feeling that Billy, Fred, and Richard are deadly serious, but
that Tom is only half-serious, basically just playing along while everyone else
is working. Some times, this works, but often it just makes them seem
unnecessarily sloppy. Is this just modern Verlaine, or was he always like this?
I never would have guessed it listening to recordings from the 1970s, but
there's a difference between seeing and hearing.
Anyhow, looking forward to tonight's show!
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