Enclosed please find the rundown on the two live shows I caught a little over a week ago.
Duran Duran marked my first honest-to-God arena show in many, many moons, and the crowd amassed for the occasion looked like (as my fellow attendee Bob Suh eloquently remarked) our twenty-year high-school reunion. Most of them seemed like nice folks taking the night off from work and parenting to relive some long-dormant memories. Seeing a soccer mom doing the Curvy-Armed New Wave Dance to "Union of the Snake" was a beautiful thing.
Refreshingly, the Fab Five put on a tight show with enough energy to dispel a lot of my old-farts-cynically-milking-it preconceptions. The old stuff sounded great (unforgiving arena acoustics excepted), and even the newer material from Astronaut flourished in the live setting. My favorite three moments: one, an immaculately delivered version of "The Chauffeur", replete with clay flute and sleek Euro atmosphere; two, the blindingly cool anime short of DD as weapon-toting warriors slicing and dicing Demon-faced ninjas, Kill Bill-style, while the real band clipped through "Careless Memories"; and third of all, a gloriously cheeky and strutting cover of Grandmaster Flash's "White Lines"buoyed by John Taylor's flat-out funky bass.
Sticker shock (nay, a sticker coronary) figured prominently at the merchandise table. T-shirts started at $35, a lousy pen was $12, and the (admittedly cool) Duran Duran Pop-Up Book/Program tipped the scales at 45 smackers. The admission already hurt the old back pocket more than enough, thanks.
On the louder and sweatier side of things, Chop Suey was packed to the gills for Guitar Wolf, and I still didn't see you there, ya idjit.
Once again, the Wolf played for nearly two hours, coaxing so much noise that even industrial-strength earplugs barely fought back tinnitis. Live, they continued to catapult more energy at a crowd than a Key Arena full of Red Bull. At one point about an hour into the band's set, some schmuck set off a fire extinguisher, rendering the air in half the house (including the stage, I'm certain) literally unbreathable. Half the crowd cleared out and it looked like the club was ready to close, but the band kept playing.
Those happy few who stuck it out were treated to an even more frenetic second half. Seiji stood atop the upraised hands of the crowd like a leather-clad gutter punk Jesus at one point, and the band encored with some of their finest songs. The whole glorious wall of sweat and noise almost spun out of control, only to snap back into lethal precision time and again. All other live bands are like the second pressing of the grape, friends.
The joy extended to the merchandise table, where you could get a bitchin' Guitar Wolf T-shirt, the band's two most recent CD's (both released within the last year), or the awesome GW DVD compilation Red Idol, for 10 bucks each. Yep; ten bucks each. God is good.
The fine Seattle public access cable show LiveEye TV taped the show and should be airing the episode sometime in May. Keep an eye out! In the meantime, follow these instructions:
1) Read this interview with the mighty Guitar Wolf on the SF Burning website (discovered by my intrepid wife).
2) Kick yourself profusely for having missed the show last Friday, puny mortals.
3) Repeat. And don't miss Guitar Wolf next time they're in your town, ya idjit.