Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Squeeze, Yes and Keith Emerson

Figured it was about time for me to post something again besides one of my album reviews I already posted on Sputnik Music.

Finally got out for some live music on Sunday night. Denise and I saw The English Beat and Squeeze at The Paramount in Huntington. Now that the kids are older, we can actually sneak out for a show once in awhile. (The kids stayed home and had a movie night together, ordering Chinese food and watching Sharknado 4. I think they had at least as good a time as we had).

First off, to focus on the club for a minute, I like the ambience of The Paramount. I like the brick walls -- it reminds me of something, maybe of The Bronze in Buffy the Vampire Slayer? The club is a little greedy, though -- $8 for a pretzel, etc. But that's not unusual these days. Two other things are more problematic. First, the sound there has always been so-so. And second, those hip-hugger seats have to go. Overall, though, it's a decent venue, although I actually prefer The Boulton Center and the NYCB Theater at Westbury (or, as I'll always think of it, The Westbury Music Fair). For this particular show, the Paramount was as packed as I've ever seen it.

The English Beat were smoking. I'd never seen them live before, and while they're not one of my very favorite '80s bands, they're worth catching. My favorite songs of theirs are "Save It for Later" and their cover of "Tears of a Clown", and they did a great job on both. Denise was bopping for their whole set.

Squeeze is one of my favorite '80s band. They were quite good, although I think they were a little better the one other time I saw them, about 8 years ago in Westbury. Part of it was me -- I worked some overnights recently, and my sleep schedule is screwed. So unfortunately, I could hardly keep my eyes open for the last hour of the show. But part of it was also that this time out, they played five or six songs from their most recent album, Cradle to the Grave, and it's not that strong an album. Consequently, they didn't have time to play some of their best songs, like "Annie Get Your Gun" or "Vicky Verky".

I'm quibbling, though. They did all their other best stuff, and they really went into overdrive when they played "Another Nail in My Heart", "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)" and "Up the Junction" back-to-back-to-back right before the encore.

It was nice to get out for some live music again. I've got a few other shows coming up, and I'll tell you about them afterwards. (I'd tell you which ones, but I just know one of you guys would rob my house while I was out).

One recent show I was disappointed to miss was last Friday's Blackmore's Night performance at The Patchogue Theater (another great place to see a show). I didn't find out about it until the last minute, and I just wasn't able to work it out to attend. Sucks because I've been waiting for them to play Long Island again.

On the not-quite-so-live music front, I've been enjoying a DVD called Yes -- The Director's Cut over the last few days. It features a pair of concerts from Yes's 35th Anniversary World Tour with the classic lineup of Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman, Chris Squire and Alan White. The band is really on for these shows, and in addition to playing most of the stuff you'd expect, they sneak in some other numbers like the rarely-heard-live "We Have Heaven" and the underrated "Magnification". I'd definitely recommend the DVD to any Yes fan. Makes me sad that we lost Chris Squire last year.

Speaking of musicians we lost, I wrote earlier in the year about the deaths of David Bowie, Glenn Frey and Paul Kantner, and about the demise of Prince, but one person I neglected to write about was Keith Emerson. I think that's because his passing made me particularly sad, not so much because he's gone -- let's face it, at this point, a lot of the rock idols of the '70s are reaching that age where they're going to be joining the choir fantastic sooner rather than later.

But for Emerson to go out by suicide seems particularly tragic. According to reports, he had become very depressed because nerve damage was hampering his playing, and with a tour upcoming, he was afraid of embarrassing himself in front of his fans. This is a guy who was a friggin' virtuoso, probably one of the two most dominant rock synth players of his time (along with Rick Wakeman), and it's a shame that instead of looking back with satisfaction at all he'd accomplished in his life, he felt so desperate and depressed that he saw no other way out other than taking his own life.

In the unlikely event one of you older rock gods should ever be reading this blog, I just want to say, don't worry about we fans. You did more than enough to bring us pleasure in your day. Just sit back and enjoy your "golden years", and don't torture yourself over not being able to do all the things you did in the past.

Keith Emerson, rest in peace buddy. You've earned it.