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Author Topic: 2 quite good Green Mill (?) reviews (first night)  (Read 10190 times)
mrstrongarm
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« on: October 10, 2007, 05:11:51 PM »

Good reading here of Jeffs (lack-lustre but still amazing) first night performance in Chicago '94... what i cant work out is why they say Green Mill? our records (and quotes from jeff below) make it sound like Green Mill was only the 2nd night...?

apparently Jeff's reaction to the first night was why the 2nd night was absolutely mind blowing.... you can read his note regarding the drunk in Chicago performances -> http://www.flowersintime.org/popmsg.php?id=1&height=425&width=450)

heres the reviews:
http://www.sheilaomalley.com/archives/008280.html
http://bookeywookey.blogspot.com/2007/05/lament-for-genius.html
« Last Edit: October 10, 2007, 05:30:44 PM by mrstrongarm » Logged
Jaysbee
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« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2007, 05:34:45 PM »

Good reading here of Jeffs (lack-lustre but still amazing) first night performance in Chicago '94... what i cant work out is why they say Green Mill? our records (and quotes from jeff below) make it sound like Green Mill was only the 2nd night...?

apparently Jeff's reaction to the first night was why the 2nd night was absolutely mind blowing.... you can read his note regarding the drunk in Chicago performances -> http://www.flowersintime.org/popmsg.php?id=1&height=425&width=450)

heres the reviews:
http://www.sheilaomalley.com/archives/008280.html
http://bookeywookey.blogspot.com/2007/05/lament-for-genius.html

Love that first review - i almost felt like i'd been to Chicago after reading it Smiley
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belikewhat
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« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2007, 05:56:14 PM »

yeh was a good review, made me sad and happy Undecided
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mrstrongarm
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« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2007, 12:58:16 PM »

The Sheila Variations (http://www.sheilaomalley.com/archives/008280.html)

May 29, 2007
Jeff Buckley ... in memory

This is for my sister Jean, who called me at 7:30 am today to tell me that today is the 10 year anniversary of Jeff Buckley's death.

On a rainy night in Chicago many years ago, my friend Ted (now the BLOGGER Ted! ha!!) and I went to go see some singer I had never heard of at The Green Mill. His name was Jeff Buckley. He had a couple of tiny albums out - recordings of live shows he had done at Cafe Sin-� in New York - but he was about to have a large album released - the album that would be called Grace ... and so he was on the cusp of stardom. Ted had heard something about Buckley on NPR, I think - so we got tickets and met up to go see him.

It is, to date, the most amazing live show I have ever seen.

Jeff Buckley's voice is rightly famous - it has a kind of eerie Brideshead revisited choirboy-with-an-evil-streak sound - his "Corpus Christi Carol" on Grace has to be heard to be believed. What? That's a grown man?

But what I want to talk about is the VIBE of the show Ted and I saw. We still talk about it today. We still reference it.

A lot of people were pissed off at Jeff Buckley that night. But Ted and I were enraptured. Buckley was there, at the bar, mingling, hanging out. In looking back on it - I think he knew that stardom was about to hit. The tourbus parked outside was indicative of what was about to happen. But he seemed so ... small, almost - dwarfed by the bus, by the circumstances appraoching. He was freaked out. Freaked OUT. He had just given an interview to Rolling Stone and had apparently said wildly inappropriate things to the reporter. Success was coming, man ... and don't we all want success? Well, sure ... but what success actually means, in the reality of the day to day life, is not always welcome ... it's intimidating, it's scary, and artists oftentimes are people who have trouble with reality. That's why they're artists. Stardom comes with responsiblity, with lots of have-tos, with obligations, with loss of anonymity (Goldie Hawn talks about how she used to go to a little grubby bar in Malibu - before she was famous - have a glass of wine by herself, sit staring out at the waves, and write in her journal, working out any problems she might have at that moment ... it was one of her meditative healing things to do. To her, stardom was always a great great blessing ... but that doesn't mean she doesn't mourn that anonymous self ... the person who could go have a glass of wine alone, write in her diary, and not have someone take a picture of it, sell it to a tabloid and have it appear on the newsstand the next day: GOLDIE HAWN DRINKS ALONE - or whatever. Hawn is not an ungrateful person - but she does grieve that loss of solitude.) - Harrison Ford talks about this quite eloquently, and with no self-pity. "It took me years to be able to cope with the loss of privacy." It's a sacrifice. Not for some - some glory in the reality-TV aspect of stardom ... but for others it is a soul-crushing experience that separates them from their fellow man. Jeff Buckley was in that latter category.

So there he was, doing shots at the bar - talking with people, but ... you could sense things shifting. He wasn't "normal" anymore ... he couldn't blend in ... he was not anonymous. He had been playing shows at Cafe Sin-� ... a teeny joint in New York ... where the musicians who are gonna play sit out in the audience, guitars propped up against the wall ... and just walk up to the "stage" when it's their turn ... The blending of audience and performer is complete.

This world was already receding for Jeff Buckley on the rainy night at the Green Mill.

And like I said - success of course is desirable. Exciting. But it's more complex than that (for some).

I'm talking about this like I sat down and had a conversation with Jeff Buckley about his thoguhts and feelings. I did not. This is what I gleaned from his behavior that night - his brilliance of performing - his obviously self-destructive tendencies - but also his beautiful human need to connect. It was all going on at the same time. And ALL of it went into his performance. ALL of it. I have never seen anything like it. NOTHING was excluded. He didn't judge any of his own emotions - fear, anger, sadness, excitement - as inappropriate for his show. It was like watching a master-diva at work - a Judy Garland or someone like that. No matter what came up in Judy Garland - she used it. EVERYTHING was to be used. Other, more careful, artists ... craft performances in a more intellectual way. And many of these artists are brilliant, too, in their own way. But to see a raw nerve - at work - and to see him struggle - OPENLY - with all of this ... in front of us ...

Like I said, a lot of people ended up being pissed off at him because they wanted a conventional show. They didn't want him to talk in between sets about how freaked out he was, they didn't want him to suddenly stop a song he was singing, announce, "God, that sucks - let's start it over again ..." and then start the song over again ... They wanted a straight show. But Jeff Buckley couldn't have given a straight show if you paid him a million dollars. He was honest. He was true.

There were a couple of moments where I got goosebumps - because I was watching a man truly grappling with himself. In front of us.

And - I must mention this: he sang the HELL out of all of his songs. That voice.

As an actor - watching him up there - and watching how private he was, even in public (that's the definition of good performance art as far as I'm concerned - the ability to be private while people are watching you ...) was something I have never encountered before or since. He had no polish. NONE. The record company who had obviously funded this tour - and funded the tour bus - was probably trying to iron Jeff Buckley into some kind of appropriate behavior - Buckley seemed to feel the enormous institution behind him ... and there were obligations there, and responsiblities - he was no longer a free insane agent ... He had to show up, he had to get back on his mega-bus, he had to do the songs the record company wanted him to do ...

The show was chaotic. He got heckled at times. "SHUT UP - JUST SING THE SONG!" shouted from the back. Buckley didn't fight back - he didn't engage the heckler - not in a "hey, fuck you, man, I'm up here doing my thing" way ... He apologized - profusely - kept saying things like, "I suck ... Im so sorry ... I just suck ..."

But then - he'd sing "Lilac Wine" and you'd find yourself standing there, stunned at what you were witnessing and hearing.

Buckley was grappling with some demons there. He was drunk. He announced to us, at one point:

"You guys, I'm so sorry, but I am drunk. D - U - R - N - K. DRUNK!"

He started to sing Leonard Cohen's "Halleluia". But ... but ... he just wasn't being true ... it didn't feel true to him ... or something ... so he stopped the song. "Stop stop stop stop ..." It was like he was almost in pain - so far away was he from his own ideals. I am thinking of Odets in Hollywood, writing trash. Spiritual death. So what Ted and I saw (and we went out and talked about it all night afterwards, in a diner down the street - as the rain splashed against the windows) - was a man trying to imagine himself, work himself, closer to his own ideal in his head. And if that meant starting a song over - even though there was a whole crowd there - so be it. What we were seeing was not a finished product. He would not BE a 'product'. He was in process.

Buckley said at one point, "I want to give everybody their money back ... i am so sorry about the show tonight ... I suck so bad ..."

This could not have been farther from the truth. It was self-indulgent, yes - but any artists process MUST be self-indulgent. How else will you know what works, what failure feels like? You have to GO there. It was unconventional - that he would GO there during a show, and not during a rehearsal or whatever ... but to expect Jeff Buckley to be conventional in any way, shape, or form, is ludicrous. I watched him up there, alone by the mike - with that stunning James Dean-esque face - the innocence of it, but also the wildness - and how he would throw himself up towards those high notes, launching his voice up fearlessly into the octaves above - eyes closed, body slack and open - letting it happen, letting it come ... and I remember wondering: God, what is going to happen to this boy. This special wild boy. This is not just retrospect talking. The whole night was like that. Buckley told us about the interview with Rolling Stone, he seemed to be having a nervous breakdown almost - about the impending fame ... It was like we were getting to see him in a small club for the last time. He was going. He was going somewhere else now. Buckley felt the loss of that.

He handled the heckling with grace - but he also didn't change his approach. He didn't "get it together". One song he started to sing - and for whatever reason - he felt like he needed to sit down - so he crossed his legs, and sat down - with his back to the audience, and sang the whole song in that position. Beautifully, by the way.

It was his way, it seemed, of getting back into his private world.

His band was amazing. They just went wherever he went. If he stopped a song - they stopped, started over, whatever.

The best thing of it was this: They started to play one of his songs - I think it was "So Real". Like I said, I didn't know Buckley's music at that point. But I loved the song immediately - and his voice just pierced right through me. That voice. Holy God. Ted and I stood there, lost in it (many of us were lost in it - the hecklers in the crowd were few and far between, although they were loud) - and maybe after a verse and a chorus, Buckley said, in a "oh, fuckitalltohell" tone, "God, stop stop stop ... " He wasn't an indignant arrogant maestro. He seemed like a little boy, hurt, because his mom interrupted his make-believe game of knights and dragons with the prosaic request that he set the table. He was BUMMED that ... he wasn't being transported. He had a requirement of his own art. So anyway - he stopped the song. Which had sounded FINE to me. He was in pain. "God, that sucked ... we SUCK ... " (heckling) "I know, I know, you guys ... I'm so sorry ... Let's start it again ..."

They started the song again. And the hairs on the back of my neck rose up. It was as though Jeff Buckley had realized that going into the song he was a bit cloudy, in terms of motivation, or ... sound ... and he needed to clear the deck. He needed to FOCUS ... so that he could "go there" in the song. And that's what happened after the interruption. The band almost blew the roof of that tiny club. Jeff Buckley stood up there - a shaman, a madman, a choirboy with a direct line to heaven and hell - wailing to the skies, catapulting his voice up, down - his gestures free, fearless, uninhibited - and yet totally specific and germane to the song. When he "got it together" - by taking that pause - when he cleared the deck of everything extraneous and unnecessary to his performance - the genius that came, the power of that voice, gives me goosebumps to this day.

I was so sad when he died. So so sad. I imagined him ... swimming in the current, drunk, stars wheeling by overhead ... I can't say I was surprised - because there had been a wildness in him, and a potential for unhinged grief - you could sense it.

But I miss him. I miss the albums he didn't make.

To me, Jeff Buckley was always that wild pale-faced boy, doing shots at the bar, on a rainy night in Chicago, many years ago. A tour bus looming outside. Change coming, change coming so fast ... and yet ... in the moment, there was just him ... on stage ... trying to transport himself into the world that he imagined.
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mrstrongarm
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« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2007, 12:59:04 PM »

bookeywookey (http://bookeywookey.blogspot.com/2007/05/lament-for-genius.html)

Thursday, May 31, 2007
Lament for a Genius - (Jeff Buckley - Live at the Green Mill)

My friend Sheila over at The Sheila Variations had a great memorial post to Jeff Buckley the great rock troubadour, who died ten years ago, remembering a concert she and I attended together at the Green Mill in Chicago. Not only the best live performance I've ever attended -period - but most influential one for me as a an acting teacher and director. My memory of that great evening was that it started with a depressed woman with very talented hair singing songs of doom to open the show. Every bit of her exuded gloom - her diction was depressed, her outfit was depressed, never mind the songs. She invited JB up on stage to do the final song with her. He reluctantly gave up his position at the bar where he'd been drinking a too much tequila, still in his overcoat, slunk up to the stage, and sat on the floor with his back to us so that she would have the limelight for the end of her set.

When JB and his band got up on stage they tuned and suddenly photographers were everywhere, shooting pictures which made Buckley very self conscious. I should just say that I'm going to take the liberty of imagining some of the thing's Buckley thought, and I could be way off. The tour was for the release of his then new album - Grace. He riffed vocally for a while with no words - just 'ah' - until they stopped taking pictures, he seemed to hate the photographs, The first several songs he could not find his footing, he would sing a piece from the album and would feel it was lifeless and just moan to us "God this sucks. I'm so sorry. I wish I could give you all your money back." It was agonizing to watch. He was a performer that was all about being with the music at this one moment in time that would never come again. His tour was about publicity and performing the same pieces over and over again like he did on the recording, but because he'd said some stupid thing to Rolling Stone or MTV - some really influential media outlet in music they threatened would cost him any future publicity- he was kicking himselft and censoring himself and just couldn't get past it. He was not meeting his own standards. He apologized after every one of the first few songs and then, I believe it was on Leonard Cohen's Halleluiah, he started the song and then quieted the band and began riffing a capella - I believe it was on the line "it's a cold and it's a broken Halleluiah" - I think he just couldn't stand not being with the music any more. He improvised for at least five or ten minutes on that phrase until he finally found his way to the moment he was in - disappointed in himself, in the conflict created by career and art, in love with the music, and finding that new moment in a song he's performed 100 times. I've always thought that that was the job of the artist - not just a live performer, but a painter or a writer too. It's the part of the work that is hardest in some ways. I'm obsessed with artists' creative processes, how we awaken ourselves to the moment we're in rather that the moment we think we should be in - because of our artists' expertise - about the right words or the prettiest notes - we get sidetracked and start trying to get out of the lousy moment we're in (which is the actual pay dirt) and instead get to some "better" thing we think should be there to make the song or the character or the sentence good, right, funny, brilliant - or in some way appealing to our vanity. That struggle is a tough one - it's a daily war for an artist - and the thing that always amazed me was that he fought that battle right in front of us. When I think of the really great performers I've seen - Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in concert (Alex Ross at The Rest is Noise who always has great writing on music, has some excellent posts on Hunt Lieberson), Kim Stanley on film, Billy Crudup in Waking the Dead, Geraldine Page in almost anything at all - that's what they all do. It's an act of courage really - to strive to be your imperfect self in front of everyone.

The rest of Buckley's concert was like being under a spell. It's sad that there is not more music to be heard from him, more of that haunting voice, great taste in songs (he sang Pink Floyd like Rock ballads, Edith Piaf, Benjamin Britten - stupendous stuff), and that we can't see him continue to wage that battle. I'm sure it would have been beautiful.

And what is more fitting than having him sing his own lament (let's see if I can figure out how to post this recording and slide show). Hah! I've succeeded, it's above. "Remember me, but ah, forget my fate." How apt.

Posted by Ted at 8:53 AM
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Dream Sister
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« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2009, 05:50:20 PM »

I'm new here and just read this amazing report of the first Green Mill show.
It's not easy to put in words what Jeff's music and presence just changes in ourselves, great report.

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