I often feel inadequate when I sit down to write about a show performed by a band I love. When reflecting on the magnificent Tom Waits' performance in Atlanta on Saturday night, it's words themselves that seem inadequate to capture even a fraction of what this brilliant mad man did on stage.
So there's the disclaimer: this post will simply do no justice whatsoever for what we witnessed. It can't. Words can't. Pictures help- gratitude and credit go to the lovely Ela for providing the photo above- but nonetheless, this was a classic case of you-gotta-see-it-to-believe-it.
From the moment he entered the stage, gruff dark charming handsome with a permanently guilty expression, he captivated me. Singing Lucinda "...Like a kid who captures a firefly and leaves it only to die in the jar" and stomping his foot to the beat, smoke (flour?) would fly up from the ground. He was always one for theatrics.
He would stretch his arms out like he was flying but then wiggle his fingers like a hummingbird flies. No, a bumble bee. Oh my god, it was jazz hands. Okay, so Tom Waits is the only person on earth who can not only make Jazz Hands look cool, but makes you want to wiggle your fingers right back at him.
We were lucky enough to hear him play "Hold On" here in Atlanta. That song has meant so much to me; I played it on repeat for the following month after my darling Grandmother passed away in July, 2000. I remember hanging out with my old friend Howie on his deck overlooking Cloudland Canyon listening to it over and over. We would sit and drink beer, watching people hang gliding through the canyon and listening to Mule Variations on repeat. My grief was so heavy then.
Howie told me a couple years ago that he will always think about me with the line from Hold On that talks about dancing with no music in the cold. Being associated with a Tom Waits song is seriously the highest compliment I think you can be paid and it still makes my eyes well up to think about it.
But I digress.
My notes are hazy because a) I was writing in the dark b) liquor from the flask spilled a few drops and blurred my ink and c) the notebook binding is falling apart and the pages are all out of order, but some of what I can decipher include:
"drunken marionette" "old speakers strung like pots and pans in Sweeney Todd's kitchen" "dances like a zombie playing baseball"
There's so much more than can and should be said for this glorious night with Mr. Waits himself. But as I said, this blog will not do him, his band, his music or the show justice. But it will help me remember a night I should never forget.
Here's the set list- I think I got it right. If you took notes and found a mistake in my list let me know in the comments. I'm including album names because we were trying to figure those out afterwards.
Tom Waits Set list - July 5, 2008 Fox Theater, Atlanta Georgia
1. Lucinda /Ain't Going Down to the Well (Orphans: Brawlers) 2. Down in the Hole (Beautiful Maladies) 3. Falling Down (Big Time) 4. Chocolate Jesus (Mule Variations) 5. All the World is Green (Blood Money) 6. Cemetery Polka (Rain Dogs) 7. Cause of it all / 'Til the Money Runs Out (Heartattack and Vine) 8. Such a Scream (Bone Machine) 9. November (Black Rider) 10. Hold On (Mule Variations) 11. Black Market Baby (Mule Variations) 12. 9th and Hennepin (Rain Dogs) 13. Lie to Me (Orphans: Brawlers) 14. Lucky Day (Black Rider) 15. On the Nickel (Heartattack and Vine) 16. Lost in the Harbor (Alice) 17. Innocent When You Dream (Frank's Wild Years) 18. Hoist That Rag (Real Gone) 19. Make it Rain (Real Gone) 20. Dirt in the Ground (Bone Machine) 21. Get Behind the Mule (Mule Variations) 22. Hang Down Your Head (Rain Dogs) 23. Jesus Gonna Be Here (Bone Machine) 24. Singapore (Rain Dogs)
Encore 1. Eyeball Kid (Mule Variations) 2. Anywhere I Lay My Head (Rain Dogs)