Tag Archives: Palace of Auburn Hills

Blessed: Lucinda Williams at the Royal Oak Theater

25 Nov

Beat the Bots

Foo Fighters tickets went on sale last Saturday. Being all about sticking up for the little guy, the band kicked it off with a “Beat the Bots” pre-sale. As an email explained, “Fans sick of Scalper-BOTS programmed to clog online queues and snatch up huge amounts of tickets to resell them will get first shot at tickets to the show.” So, just as in days of old, those of us wanting good seats could drive down to the box office and get in line.

Of course, Saturday was the last day of a bitter cold snap, with freezing rain turning every parking lot and bridge into a luge track. We were allowed to start lining up at 8:00 a.m. with the box office opening two hours later. It was about 8:10 when I realized that, while I had thought to bring my Rolling Stone with Dave Grohl on the cover to keep myself occupied, I didn’t have warm socks, waterproof boots or long johns. I was woefully underdressed. For the next two and a half hours, I shifted from foot to foot, jammed my gloved hands into my pockets and tried to stay limber while my teeth chattered.

As I felt my spine go numb and my gums freeze, I had to ask myself: why do I put myself through this? 

I could say it’s to earn the admiration of those in my age group who, due to other commitments and common sense, don’t go the extra mile I often do to see my favorite musicians perform live. “You are awesome,” read one post on my Facebook page; “Young. At. Heart” read another. If my race against decrepitude and boredom lands me in a mosh pit every once in a while, I’ll have the support of those living vicariously through my folly.

But there’s a more valid reason. Live music connects us physically with the singer and the song in ways a pair of headphones never will. It amplifies our ability to experience pure joy. Case in point: the transcendent Lucinda Williams, who I saw at the Royal Oak Theatre on Saturday night.

Lucinda Williams

Singer/songwriter Williams grew up in Louisiana, the daughter of a poet who was also a rabid Hank Williams fan (no relation … pity). Tom Petty was my gateway to her music. He did a blistering cover of Williams’ “Changed the Locks” for the soundtrack of She’s the One. (Lucinda returned the favor, covering “Rebels” when Petty received the ASCAP Founders Award this year.)

She’s got a voice like a broken beer bottle and views the world through cigarette smoke and smeared eyeliner. Her genre is hard to pin down. Alt-country, blues, rock, folk and gospel fuse together in her fearless lyrics that demand she be treated with passion and respect, as in one of her evocative creations, “Unsuffer Me”:


Her three-piece band was phenomenal, filling the sold-out venue with a dense, precision playing so thrilling, Lucinda herself would pull to the side of the stage to watch. She balanced her new material with old, plus some apt covers including Detroiter Bettye LaVette’s “Joy” and Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” She was having so much fun, when she finished her nearly two hour set, she came back for an encore … then another … then another (and perhaps another: I lost count in my glee). She got to a point that she ran out of numbers in the songbook she kept on her music stand; she sent the roadie offstage to fetch more lyric sheets so she could do more songs. (Kenneth Brian, the leader of the band that opened the show, told us in the lobby that she was making up for a stuffy gig the night before in Cleveland; “I’ve never seen her like this,” he said, astonished.)

Foo Fighters ticketsLucinda Williams was a perfect way to close out a year of remarkable shows, as I’ve been blessed by great opportunity and more often than not, a willing concert buddy. She reinforced my resolve to keep showing up, despite the cold or cost or clueless drunks air-drumming throughout the evening. And good thing, too … because I have a date with Dave and the boys in August 2015!

See you on the flip side … 

P.S. If you live in the Brighton, Michigan area, there’s still time to RSVP for the Brighton District Library Local Author Showcase, featuring yours truly and signed copies of Love and Other B-Sides! Let us know you’re coming by registering here: http://bit.ly/1vauiBR



There Goes My Hero

22 Sep

I think the drunken cougar standing behind me at the Palace said (or slurred) it best: “If I didn’t love Dave Grohl before, I do now. WHOO, BABY!”

My older daughter and I had been looking forward to the Foo Fighters concert for months. We joked about creating our own tribute t-shirts featuring slogans like Team Grohl, Grohl Power, and What Would Grohl Do? I bought the tickets the day they went on sale. Yeah, I dig their music and respect the band and wanted to experience them live after all these years, but my purchase was mainly a vote of approval, admiration and appreciation for their front man.

Dave Grohl is my favorite bad ass.

The hardest working punk in show business …

At 42, Dave can still run around the stage like a 19-year old, take pride in his tats, and scream through a three-hour set without losing his voice or respect from his fans. And, to the alcoholic MILF’s point, he’s aged into his good looks and finally found a stylist to give him a bouncy layered cut that stands up to hours of sweaty head-banging without losing its shape. Even with that thick neck and those humongous teeth, he’s pretty dreamy.

He cemented his place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2016 when he became the eighth drummer for Nirvana, arriving just in time to be part of Nevermind and all the success and chaos that followed. The homely kid beating the hell out of the drum kit behind Kurt Cobain could also play guitar and write songs; six months after Cobain’s death he shopped around the 15-track demo that led him to form the Foos.

In addition to Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, plus his recent stint as a third of Them Crooked Vultures, he’s recorded with something like 30 other bands. (Just this week I found out he played on the first track of Garbage’s Bleed Like Me … the guy knows everybody.) He was a Heartbreaker for one weekend in 1994 when the regular drummer Stan Lynch had a falling out with the band and Dave got a call to ask if he could sit in for their Saturday Night Live performance. (Dave’s response? “Couldn’t they find a good drummer?”)

Apparently he aced the audition—Tom offered him the gig on a permanent basis—but Dave decided to follow his own path.

Dave also boasts a rare talent in the music business: a sense of humor. Check out his Top 10 Drummer Jokes. My favorite is #8: What do you call a drummer that breaks up with his girlfriend? Homeless.

And OMG:  he’s an X-Files fan, too! He had a cameo in the “Pusher” episode, and “Walking After You” played over the credits of the  X-Files movie, Fight the Future.  Could I possibly love this guy any more?

Actually, yes.

Dave already established himself as the defender of the rock and roll faith earlier this year when he came to the defense of Slash and Kings of Leon for refusing to allow their songs to be covered on Glee.  That faith was tested when the pinheads from Westboro Baptist Church decided to picket the Foo Fighters’ Kansas City show on September 16, ostensibly because of their hatred of the hedonistic entertainment industry—but more likely because of the band’s “Keep It Clean (Hot Buns)” viral video promoting the tour,  featuring the guys in hillbilly trucker garb taking a communal shower while  enjoying an ode to “hot-man muffins.”

Dave and the Foos found the perfect way to fight fire with fire. They dressed in their stupid wigs and cowboy boots, rented a flatbed, parked in front of the venue and serenaded the protesters … who liked the song a lot more than they should have (even the guy shouting, “Dave Grohl, you douchebag!”). As Hillbilly Dave said, “God bless America.”

And God bless Dave Grohl.

See you on the flip side … and thanks, Dave, for a mind-blowing concert and so much more.

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