Peregrine flight

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Fast Forward

© Leslie Sommers
Leslie and I, being holed out way up in the northern provinces, at the corner of recluse and forgotten, don't really get out much.

On the rare occasion when we do lift our heads out of our den we are often amazed to see that the worm has indeed turned, maybe passed us by, like Ma and Pa Van Winkle awakening after a long nod.

Last night we ventured down to San Diego to see the British musician Joe Jackson play at the Spreckels Theater downtown.

We decided to forego Convoy and our normal asian fare on the way down and try a pizzeria in Golden Hill that Leslie had heard good things about, Luigis.

We wandered through the lovely old neighborhood, full of hip twenty somethings with a fresh sparkle in their eye. Pizza was pretty good but nowhere near as good as Bronx Pizza, our gold standard.

We headed west to the venue, passing a whole bunch of people living under the overpass in blankets and cardboard. After an interminable search for a parking spot, we made our way to the venerable old theater.

John D. Spreckels, son of the German sugar baron, was arguably the most important historical figure in San Diego, which owes much to his vision.  The owner of the Arizona and San Diego Shortline Railroad, he owned property all over town, including the Hotel Del and funded the Pan Pacific Exhibition. At one time he paid an estimated 10% of all the property taxes in San Diego County. Spreckels owned both newspapers in town and built the theater as the most modern commercial playhouse west of the Mississippi.

We walked through the ornate foyer, noticing the beautiful Gladding McBean ceramic figural friezes that doted the ceiling. The ormolu and wainscot of the theater was decorated in a french style braid motif. Our seats were about six rows up, to our immediate left were little areas of opera seats for the true patricians.

But my main observation was that there wasn't a single fucking person in the room under fifty and most well over the six decade mark. I turned to Leslie and muttered something about passing the rubicon or some invisible maginot line. But mostly I was worried. Did I look as old as all the other ancient codgers in the room? Possibly so. Gads!

We got into a conversation before the concert with a couple to our immediate left, they looked about my age, maybe a little younger, both Orange County transplants. Very nice. Luckily we steered clear of what I suspect might be the normal conversation in the room, listing our assorted ailments. We started talking instead about the music of our youth, best concerts and stuff like that and he was talking Sonic Youth and the Circle Jerks, X and TSOL. My little sister Amie's stuff.  I mentioned Tull and drew a blank from the guy.

When the old timers are waxing about their time moshing with Public Image Limited, you know that you are on the downhill slope.

Joe Jackson came out and started his performance solo at the keyboard, his second show of the short current tour. He was in a word, brilliant. A masterful performer, he was bright, acerbic, pithy, fabulous. He played about four tunes with symphony like piano virtuosity before the rest of the band came out and joined him and cranked the thing up.

The show was a mix of old and new, covers and his own material, the songs a poignant look at the human condition, as always. Tales of joy, bittersweet love and heartbreak. Tight, efficient songs without an ounce of fluff. At one point he reached into a hat he uses to choose covers and pulled out a song to play and launched into a great Steely Dan song off the Royal Scam. In Scottsdale he covered Bowie, something else in Holland.

And lo and behold. All of those geriatrics in the hall, hell they knew all the songs as well as I did, if not better. And we all rocked the joint.

This is a great band. Longtime band members Graham Maby on bass, Teddy Kumpel on guitar, and drummer Doug Yowell, who plays with impeccable time and an incredible ferocity.

If you know his music and have a chance, check out his show. If you don't know his music, check out his show. Some things only get better with age.

1 comment:

Chip said...

Sad I missed this!!