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*AS THIS STORY WAS GOING TO PUBLICATION, I LEARNED THAT LEGENDARY JIMI HENDRIX DRUMMER DIED TODAY. I’M NOT GOING TO GO BACK AND EDIT THE STORY, PRETENDING THAT MITCHELL PUT ON A STELLAR PERFORMANCE LAST WEEK (SEE 2ND REVIEW BELOW). HOWEVER I WILL SAY THAT I FEEL HONORED TO HAVE ATTENDED THE NEXT-TO-LAST PERFORMANCE OF THE LATE, GREAT MITCH MITCHELL, AND MAY HE REST IN PEACE*

Mitch Mitchell 1947-2008

Three unique shows I attended recently:                      

Monday, November 3rd
The Nightwatchman with Stone Gossard’s Hank Khoir, Mike McCready and Shadow ’86, and Boots Riley
The Showbox Market. Seattle, WA

A wild vibe of excitement was in the air on the night before the big election. At the Showbox, adrenaline was flowing heavy and it was kind of like waiting for Y2K to happen: we had no clue what was about to happen with this large event lurking.    

Washington Governor Christine Gregoire and U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott were on hand to speak to the crowd, with both receiving warm applause. Pearl Jam member Stone Gossard showed a different side of his creative self with a blend of slow-poke country and rockabilly music, which he used to perform covers of Prince’s “1999” and Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” among others.

Boots Riley. Seattle, 11-03-08

Boots Riley. Seattle, 11-03-08

Boots Riley (of the Coup) rapped out his political frustrations but also reminded us to Laugh, Love, Fuck, and Drink Liquor. Like I mentioned before, things were a little nutty and mystery was in the air, but sadly, jack offs were in the crowd also. Mike McCready (also of Pearl Jam) has been doing a Jimi Hendrix cover band gig around town in his spare time. And he plowed through jaw-dropping versions of songs like “Killing Floor,” “Red House” and “Fire.” Now let me ask a question: when was the last time you saw jack offs (and yes, they’re all jack offs…..read this) mosh to a Jimi Hendrix song?

Well, tonight was the night. Instantly, a ton of people (myself included) got slammed in the back from behind from a group of about six drunken jack offs who wanted to mosh. People were motioning and gesturing for them to stop and making it clear that the act was not wanted at this show. A Metallica concert would be understandable, but just not here. But that couldn’t stop these jack offs. I noticed a big guy in front of me who looked like his buddies were holding him back. So he eventually turned his back to the jack offs so he could continue watching the show. BAM! He got nailed by them, so he ran after one of them, grabbed him by the neck and began to beat the tar out of him. GOOD! And while this mayhem was going on, my buddy and I snuck closer to the stage while no one was paying attention.

Comedian Craig Gass was also in the house and he did his best to stir up some laughs in-between songs, but ultimately fell short. Part of this was because one of the jack offs (the tall one) returned and would barely let Gass speak, interrupting him with rude comments and profanity at the top of this lungs. Finally, a guy next to me had enough and politely asked the tall jack off to stop yelling so loud in his ear. No one tells a tall jack off what to do. Words exchanged and suddenly another fight was breaking out, but this time security was on it and the whole crowd pointed at the tall jack off as the culprit. The tall jack off was removed from the area, and the crowd cheered.

Now just after that fiasco, I look to my left and saw two guys holding up a girl under her arm pits, as it appeared she had fainted or something. We layed her down onto the floor (thank god no music was playing yet) and I used my jacket to create a pillow for her. Her eyes were shut and a panic rose over as we wondered how serious this issue was. People got the attention of security, the girl seemed to only be ill, and they gently got her out of the crowd.

Guitar reads: Arm The Homeless

Guitar reads: Arm The Homeless

Tom Morello (the Nightwatchman) is a man of serious wit, fury, intelligence, energy and musicianship. The Rage Against the Machine guitarist has been doing the acoustic solo gig for a while but this time he had a small band of “Freedom Fighters” with him this time, that way Tom could show off a little of his signature electric guitar chops. This was a real catch 22 because I love seeing him play electric, but the solo acoustic show is so much more intimate. So he treated the crowd with a little of both with his deep baritone voice with songs of vengeance, politics and honor. Covers such as “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” and “The Ghost of Tom Joad” went over well and Morello substituted in his own lyrics for flavor. Again, the guy just hits on all cylinders whether he’s singing, playing guitar or harmonica with a real cosmic energy and passion. Even if you don’t know what he’s raging against exactly, Morello gets you to at least take interest and pump your fist right with him.

Tom Morello. Seattle, 11-03-08

Tom Morello. Seattle, 11-03-08

Morello did a noble thing at the end but is probably un-aware of a small result. He called all performers back to the stage and asked for any members of the Veterans Against the Iraq War to join the stage if they were in the house. And this was great, except that the tall jack off jumped up on stage too. You could tell as he gestured to his friends that he was like “guys look, I snuck up on stage!” Well, this infuriated the guy next to me who had been in the earlier altercation and he began to loudly yell in protest, which pissed off people around us.

Finally, this cluster chuck came to an end and Morello led the whole crew into a fun version of “This Land is Your Land,” insisting the entire crowd jump up and down in unison during the final verse. And they complied.

In the end it was a truly electric night, even though people figured Eddie Vedder or Zack de la Rocha would make guest appearances (which they did not). Tom Morello is inspiring in more ways than he can ever know.
Thursday, November 6th
Experience Hendrix Tour
Paramount Theatre. Seattle, WA

The late, great Jimi Hendrix was all about the guitar, and some of the best guitarists of young and old gathered on this tour to pay their respects to Jimi by playing his covers. This all-star line-up included some of Jimi’s own mentors such as Buddy Guy and Hubert Sumlin, as well as a few young pups who looked up to Jimi like Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jonny Lang. But the icing on top had to be seeing bass player Billy Cox and drummer Mitch Mitchell jam again as they were once a trio with Jimi Hendrix.

Being that Seattle was home to Jimi for many years, you can assume that all of these artists stepped it up a little for the Experience Hendrix Tour. Local boy Mike McCready again showed up in Seattle to pay homage to Jimi. This time he entered the stage playing the “Star Spangled Banner” and did a pretty version of “Sweet Angel.”

Mitch Mitchell. Seattle, 11-06-08

Mitch Mitchell. Seattle, 11-06-08

Other than McCready and his crew, most of the musicians just rotated in and out all night for songs. And while it was monumental to see Mitchell climb (literally) behind the drum kit, it was clear he is well past his solid playing years. He never played the drums alone and another drummer always played lead all night, with Mitchell acting as more of a percussionist.

Being that the Doors are my all-time favorite band, I was most stoked to see guitarist Robby Krieger perform. That is, until he invited effing Queensryche to the stage. I don’t like Queensryche (more details here). Krieger is known for his bottle-neck skills and he certainly put them on display. And I have to admit that the guitarist to Queensryche was very good (though the singer was ruining the songs). But I don’t like Queensryche. Aerosmith bass player Brad Whitford was in town and Stevie Ray Vaughan drummer Chris Layton actually played drums for most of the songs all night. Back when he was with Vaughan, Layton never did anything really outstanding and pretty much just kept a steady beat. He did the same thing on this night.

Billy Cox. Seattle, 11-06-08

Billy Cox. Seattle, 11-06-08

As mentioned before, the young cats were out as well, and Jonny Lang had the whole room on their feet after his solo during “Fire.” After a few songs, he left the stage open for Kenny Wayne Shepherd, who lived up to all the guitar hype he’s had for years. With blues pioneers like Buddy Guy and B.B. King getting up there in age, it’s great to see that torches are being passed to worthy recipients.

To end the night, Buddy Guy and his band brought the cool, classy, sexy part of the blues to life. Even though he was dressed in old overalls, Guy had the women shoutin’ and the guys smiling in respect as well. Guy isn’t selfish, and he let everyone get their solos in, including his keyboardist Marty Sammon. Mitch Mitchell, Billy Cox, Jonny Lang and plenty others were on stage to run through an amazing version of “Red House.”

Buddy Guy. Seattle, 11-06-08

Buddy Guy. Seattle, 11-06-08

As you can imagine, the show ended with a jamboree featuring just about every performer of the night and they were all on hand to bow at the finale. Jimi Hendrix was arguably the greatest guitarist of all time, and his work was on full display during this concert to give proper respects. Any fan of guitar music MUST go see this tour if it continues next year.
Friday, November 7th
2 Live Crew
Nectar Lounge. Seattle, WA

When I was fourteen, I can remember telling my cousin (who was an entire year younger than me…at thirteen) that I’d play a song for her, though she might not be ready for it because it’s pretty dirty. I played the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Party on Your P*ssy,” thinking that child would be blown away from those vulgar lyrics, and I probably shouldn’t have been exposing youth to such filth. But I was edgy like that.

I played the song, and then she went and got a tape of 2 Live Crew and said “you should listen to this then.” It was like Courtney Love spitting on Miss Manners. 

So eighteen years later, 2 Live Crew were in town and my buddy and I figured this show would either be completely off the hook or Axl Rose pathetic. Granted, they were playing a tiny venue in the Nectar Lounge and the ticket price barely broke double digits. But this is 2 LIVE CREW! I mean, you receive a blow job just from purchasing a ticket, right?

2 Live Crew. Seattle, 11-07-08

2 Live Crew. Seattle, 11-07-08

Wrong. 2 Live Crew is past their prime. For one thing, their old leader Luke Skyywalker isn’t with them anymore and the only real members left were their DJ, along with MC’s Fresh Kid Ice and Brother Marquis.

This was a 2 Live Crew karaoke show. They played all the old hits like “Me So Horny,” “F*ck Shop” and “D*ck Almighty” but you could hear all the vocals of past MC’s not in the band anymore, and the current guys just sang over top of it. It was pathetic. They did play some new tunes, but they were less than exciting. The DJ was giving some out for free at one point.

2 Live Crew. Seattle, 11-07-08

2 Live Crew. Seattle, 11-07-08

This show was a real test of not only my decency morals, but also my music taste morals. There was nothing exciting about the musical performance and I expected that to continue. Yet I couldn’t force myself to leave because I figured it HAD to get better, plus something EXCITING might happen and I didn’t want to miss it for the story. And I was surprised how many of the old lyrics I actually knew once the music played.

Any way you look at it, their music was degrading to women, as well as their live shows. And re-listening to all of these lyrics years later was sort of tough to chew on. And yes, they had strippers (which were just as downgraded as the show) on stage as well as girls from the crowd and they were all shakin’ that booty. But they all chose to be up there, so I didn’t feel too bad for them. The crowd did get a little rowdy though and guys were getting tossed out by security for smacking girls on the ass who were up on the stage.

For the most part, I’m glad the show was cheap and I really just laughed most of the time. 2 Live Crew was As Nasty As They Wanted To Be back in the early 90s, but those days are long gone and it appears that some of the old members simply can’t let go of the glory days, or are just that desperate for a paycheck and will travel 3,312 miles to get that check. Or both.

Maybe they can call up Axl and see if there is an opening slot on his upcoming tour for his sure-to-flop Chinese Democracy.

Major props to openers Champagne Champagne and especially Mad Rad (currently on tour) who are like early Beastie Boys hyped up Iggy Pop style but with more rap. E-N-E-R-G-E-T-I-C

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