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Night of Blackness - Peter Hentges

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October 24th, 2006


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10:26 am - Night of Blackness
Because laurel had too much fun and too much work running Convivial over the weekend, she was in no shape to go to First Avenue last night and see Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. She and kaustin generously offered me the spare ticket and I accepted.

I met up with kaustin outside of the club just after the doors opened at 7:00 p.m. We went in and I went upstairs to grab a stool from which to watch the opening acts. Happened to grab the same seats that elisem and I got when we went to see John Hiatt just before this year's Winnipeg Folk Festival. These are behind the video/lighting booth and separated from the main room by a sheet of plexiglass. I find these to be very decent seats because you can see the stage very well and the plexiglass deadens the loudest of the sound coming from the stage.

The schedule posted on various pillars and walls had Joan going on at 10:10 p.m. So we had a couple of opening acts to get through before the main event. The first was Valiant Thorr, a 5-piece metal band. The message that Kevin and I took away from their set was that 40-something, scrawny, hairy guys with pot bellies can still rock out. It was affirming and frightening at the same time. I never understood any of the groups lyrics but they certainly put out a lot of energy given the rather small part of the stage they were cramped on to.

Next up were the, I shit you not, Eagles of Death Metal. Kevin and I were ready for the Death Metal (which must always, always be capitalized) versions of Hotel California and Desperado. What we got, instead, was a four-piece band that was high-energy and slightly more understandable than their predecessors on the stage. The lead singer/guitar was tall and thin but very well groomed with short hair and a fu-manchu mustache. With his sunglasses he reminded me a bit of a character from The Village People; in a good way. Some of their sound reminded me of Devo. I wouldn't mind hearing studio recordings from this group as I think the sound quality of First Avenue can tend to muddy up vocals. So they might have some decent lyrics to go along with their high-energy sound.

Kevin deserted me slightly before the main event. Joan took the stage looking every bit as vibrant and, let's face it, sexy as she was in her 20s. Now at just a month past her 46th birthday she still rocks out in the same kind of rebellious, exuberant mode she had in the '80s. I had a great view but some drunk insisted on talking over the very loud music to his friend seated next to me. (minnehaha K's line, "Please don't talk over my musician friends," occurred to me.) So I descended to the main floor and was met with the full force of sound. I found that rowdy Kevin guy and had to nearly drag him from the mosh pit before the bouncers tossed him bodily from the club.

Joan showed a wise sense of showmanship, mixing in songs from her new album with her well-known hits and even paying tribute to the venue. Doing a cover of "Androgynous" by The Replacements and the theme from the Mary Tyler Moore show went over big with the Minneapolis crowd. The only down side was that it seemed that a few songs into her set that Joan got a bit pissed at something technical with the sound and/or lights. Her energy seemed to drop and she ran through some songs in a less-enthusiastic manner. The crowd seemed to pick her up on a few songs and she did an admirable job of working through whatever the difficulties were.

After the obligatory encore, I slipped out to catch my bus home. I ended up just missing one, a phenomenon that has plagued me of late, and was standing on the corner, waiting for a bus for about a half hour. At least I know my hat, coat and gloves will do me well for at least that long in weather that cold. Good to know as I prepare to bus into work this winter. I didn't end up getting home until after 1 a.m. and not to bed until after 2. Pretty late for a school night.
Current Mood: tiredtired

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