I've seen the rock musician Adrian Belew probably five times now in various bands and musical assemblages – with King Crimson, with his Power Trio, and solo at least once if not a couple of times – but until a few weeks ago I always saw him playing his own music.
But Adrian Belew has participated in so many bands over the years that I should have expected him to show up with a friend in tow and do most of the friend's songs, which happened a couple of weeks ago at the HOB* in Boston, when he showed up with a member of the Talking Heads.
You may point out that Jerry Harrison isn't the main Talking Heads songwriter; however all songs on the album Remain in Light are credited to Talking Heads and Brian Eno, so Harrison gets credit for all of them. And since the name of the tour was "Jerry Harrison & Adrian Belew REMAIN IN LIGHT" I feel confident that a court of law would exonerate me from charges of falsely claiming that the band was playing mostly Jerry Harrison songs.
You're probably wondering if this is the part of my music review when I start writing in flowery and verbose language, highlighting nebulous, esoteric aspects of the concert, casting light on little bits of melodic nuance that would have gone over the head of the average concertgoer. Or, maybe the average person wouldn't have noticed the subtleties I focus on, such as contending that the power and elegance of Adrian Belew's singing was brought into sharp relief when juxtaposed to Harrison's croaking style, because the subtleties really weren't there, and I'm reading way, way too deeply into the music. Maybe I'm just using this concert as a way of calling attention to me instead of the band.
That's not my style.
I will tell you in the most straightforward, easy to understand expository prose that Talking Heads music is still great decades later, and that the musicians assembled played faithful renditions of it, with Harrison and Belew and a backing funk band called Cool Cool Cool generating a big, energetic sound that mimicked the Talking Heads stage act at the height of their popularity. Yeah, sure, it would have been great for it to be an actual Talking Heads show with David Byrne singing, but Adrian Belew can still bring it in his 70s, and not only did he collaborate with Talking Heads in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but he can sound a good deal like David Byrne when he wants to.
I can't talk about this night without mentioning the type of mildly irritating fan you might encounter at a general admission rock concert that makes you wish they would go get another beer and get stymied trying to return . Often it's a large man who needs about a six foot radius around himself at all times to enable him to shake and shimmy and dance the night away, while the rest of us are jammed together like a pack of cigarettes. Then he elbows you in the eye socket and turns to you with his hands raised like it's a stickup to indicate that he didn't mean it. But he goes on needing all that floor space the whole night. In this rather different case, I weaved my way onto the floor after the opener had left and stopped behind a man and his son who were best pals, arms slung over each other's shoulders, high fiving, hugging, and so forth. It was kind of sweet! But after the concert started, the tipsy Dad who was sloshing around his second or third tallboy can of beer kept pulling the teen boy close so that their heads touched and I couldn't see the show, even with my big shoes on. I kept eying vacant floor space so that I might slip away from peculiarly amorous father-son act. You're thinking, what's the big deal? Too many fathers and sons don't show love for each other so why complain about these two being best buds? Trust me, it got weirder and weirder as the man got more and more hammered. Plus, like I said, I couldn't see the show.
Eventually, I was able to slide to the left so that I didn't have to keep bobbing and weaving like Joe Frazier to see the musicians between the tilted heads of this overly-close pair. Meanwhile, my buddy Tim abandoned the area headed to the back of the venue floor to get away from them. It wasn't just me.
I'll probably keep going to Adrian Belew shows until they don't exist any longer, or I don't exist, which, if you were paying attention to my early blog posts of several years ago, may be a long way off, as I expect to live quite a bit past 100. Just need Adrian Belew to do the same.
*(I don't like to expand the acronym because my friend Todd hates the HOB).
I don't drink a lot of martinis in bars, but when I do, I always order the same thing: dry Grey Goose martini, straight up, with olives. It's a clean, clear, cold drink, with a treat at the end: three pimento-filled olives to chew off a toothpick.
I had the occasion to order this very drink recently at a bar named Audubon, on Beacon Street near Fenway. My old friend Dave with was with me and ordered a dry Ketel One martini with a twist. His son Gus ordered a Cosmo, and I ordered a beer.
The waitress went off and soon returned, saying "I forgot what you ordered." I told her, "Orval." A beer.
But soon I demurred. Why not have a martini, since Dave and Gus were drinking spirits in martini glasses. So I jumped up and found the waitress as she was typing our order: "Actually, I'll have a dry martini, Grey Goose, with olives," I say.
OK, what happens next is the God's honest truth: first, a drink is put before Dave, which is identified as the "Ketel One Martini," but clearly contains olives. Dave, as a non-olive consumer, says something along the lines of "I really don't like olives. I ordered my drink with a twist." So, as any good food establishment will do, they take his drink back. Meanwhile, my drink is put down, and I take a sip: this is a dirty martini, I'm thinking, not a dry martini. Before the waiter can leave, I alert him to this error: I just want a dry martini. Grey Goose. With olives. And then Dave reiterates: And I want a Ketel One martini, straight up, with a lemon twist.
Seems like the waiter understands. Sort of. Soon, he returns and puts down a martini with a very long, twisted lemon rind in front of Dave. Dave takes a sip and declares to me: this is a dirty martini. With a twist. This may be the very first dirty martini with a twist ever made by a "professional" bartender, and it's just befuddling. So, by now we've ordered zero dirty martinis, and have received three of them (assuming that the first martini delivered to Dave, which looked like it had a splash of olive juice in it, was dirty).
Dave decides he'll suffer through his dirty martini with a lemon twist.
It takes a little time for my martini to arrive, maybe another five minutes, and when it does it has olives on the side. Clearly, they are being careful here. But, when I take a sip, it's yet another dirty martini, packed with salty olive water, which to me is borderline gross.
This is not a bar that's just learning the ropes. I've been going to Audubon for decades. It's like we were at a house party where the host makes up a pitcher of dirty martinis and you have no drink option except dirty martinis, or variations on that. ("Would you like your dirty martini with a twist?")
Moral of the story? Stick to beer.
News that China floated a balloon over our great nation to spy on us makes me think that we have become a super paranoid country. Seriously, a balloon? Slowly meandering across the country like a retiree on a pontoon boat?
I thought China had long ago figured out how to send satellites into orbit to spy on us.
Meanwhile, my other country of citizenship (Canada) was apparently asleep when the illegal balloon rocketed across the sky at the speed of, well, a balloon. Canada probably figured that there wasn't much about the north's vast supply of snow that China didn't already know, so just let the portly orb float on by.
Balloon surveillance sounds like nonsense. It's intelligence gathering of yesteryear, or maybe yestercentury. Didn't Benjamin Franklin send balloons into the air in Philadelphia to spy on New Jersey? I think Napoléon used them as well. That the evil balloon was first discovered over Montana makes me wonder if China is spying on our skiers, hoping to gain an edge before the next winter Olympics.
I haven't yet read a word to explain what the real danger was of allowing the puffy floating object to continue on its way, but maybe I'll learn more after the bits and pieces are retrieved from the "relatively shallow waters" of the Atlantic Ocean.
Meanwhile, scientists say that area birds were heard tweeting and cawing in pitches much higher than what is normal for them, after the helium was released from the bubble, causing their bird friends to laugh uncontrollably.
Add "take a hot air balloon ride" to the list of things I must do before I'm shot out of the sky.
We in New England suddenly find ourselves in the midst of a rare and shocking cold snap. This may be the warmest winter in recorded history, but don't tell that to this weekend. This weekend is getting in the faces of other weekends and tweeting out "How ya like me now?!" It's strutting and preening and signing autographs because today we're going to see some of the lowest temperatures in something like a hundred thousand years!
What's that? Sorry, my fact-checkers say we were still in an ice age 25,000 years ago.
Whatever. Stop arguing with me. The fact is we've got some bitter air here in New England, bitterer than the international bitterness units (IBUs) in my New England IPA. As someone who worries about just how bad climate change is going to be, I am curious if this is the last time we'll see negative temperature values in Boston
I decide to step outside into the wind-swept night to see what the bitter cold felt like against my supple skin. Would it feel like I had landed on another planet? My daughter joined me outside for about 30 seconds, and both of us nonchalantly declared that it was no big deal. Then went back into our warm house. In truth, we weren't in the wind.
Then, at 1 in the morning, with the wind blowing and the thermometer reading -8 degrees F, I step outside to find a rabbit chilling in the backyard, literally, not seeking the warmth of one of those rabbit holes we all keep talking about going down at work. Maybe this one was relegated to the sofa for the night, rabbit-wise.
This morning the rabbit is gone, presumably not frozen to death, and maybe chased back into a hole by one of our several neighborhood coyotes. Based on how it felt last night, the coyotes did that rabbit a favor.