On April 6th, I saw Thomas Dolby in concert in Minneapolis, MN.
In the first entry of two about it, I discussed some notes I wrote on my phone beforehand. Now, I want to describe the concert experience, started with when I got in line.
How, the two friends whose apartment I stayed at, I hung out there for about an hour. I’m really kicking myself over that because if I’d had them drop me off right when they picked me up from the bus station, I’d have been a lot closer to the front of the line.
No matter. That little fact will not mar my entire concert experience, so let us move on. I was honestly a bit amazed that the line was as long as it was when I arrived at 6:30. Doors didn’t open until 7.
I spent that time chatting up this lovely couple ahead of me in line (that’s one of them with the scarf). They were nice. The man was rattling off Dolby vinyl that he owned, it was pretty cool.
This was the moment I really began to freak out, when I saw the time capsule.
So, switch to getting inside. Of course, the prime front and center area was already well filled by the time I got in. I secured a seat in the second row, off to the side a bit but still fairly close to the middle. I began chatting with another wonderful couple, and we had a lovely discussion about how I got into music like Thomas Dolby and I was only 25. We also had a brief discussion about the Laurie Anderson song playing on the PA system. I told the lady my story for how I’d gotten to be a Dolby fan. It was really quite nice. I was much too excited to be that disappointed that I hadn’t gotten a seat closer to the front.
The two men in red shirts are twins. Those shirts say “I’m the evil twin”. I chatted with them after the show, and they said their mother had gotten the shirts for them ages ago and they hadn’t been taken out of the box until this night.
The music on the PA system before the opening act came on was pretty nice in and of itself. The Talking Heads, even a David Bowie song I hadn’t heard for ages. They even played the song New Toy, by Lene Lovich. Which I spazzed about because it’s literally been years since I heard that song.
So, then the opening act. Made up of Aaron Jonah Lewis and Ben Belcher.
Now, they played some unique country/bluegrass kind of music. If you know me and my stance on these things, it’s a testament to them that I actually enjoyed it. I don’t know that I’d run out and buy the cd, but they were both really talented. And they were funny. I don’t know. It might appear that I have a blanket hate policy on country music, but that simply isn’t true. I’m just extremely picky about it. And when one is disillusioned in regards to a genre of music, it can be easy to become biased against anything closely resembling it.
But I enjoyed the opening act. During one of their songs, Thomas Dolby’s drummer snuck behind them on stage and smacked around on the electronic drum kit. Neither Aaron or Ben noticed, which the audience thought was quite hilarious. I could have cried laughing.
After the opening act, I started to get really excited. Up until that point it almost felt like a dream, but now, I was wearing my outfit, holding my LP, sitting in the venue. I wish I could have bottled that feeling so I could tap into it on gloomy days.
So, when this well dressed announcer guy came up on stage and asked if we were all ready to see Thomas Dolby, naturally the audience screamed like hell.
That is nothing compared to that first moment that Thomas came on stage.
The song playing was Commercial Breakup, and the only thing going through my head was “OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD”. I literally almost cried with joy, but I stopped myself because I didn’t want to smudge my eyeliner.
In my defense, I did run this through the “clarify” filter in paint shop pro 8 a bunch of times. Occasionally doing so produces really neat effects like this one.
I screamed and clapped like a spaz after every song. To aid my memory of this show I did look up a setlist. Believe me, my memory is horrible for everything except music.
The next song he played was One of Our Submarines, and even though I kind of knew the backstory for it, it was lovely to hear Thomas tell it in his own words. It’s a lovely song. It translates really well live, I think.
This shot is blurry, but I like to think he’s looking directly at my camera.
Now, when he began playing The Flat Earth, I spazzed a bit. It was one of my favorite Dolby tunes I fully expected him not to play, since I believe it was played on The Sole Inhabitant tour. I figured since it was in the last one, it wouldn’t be in this one. So I was extremely excited. It sounds lovely live. I remember loving how the guitar sounded in the overall ambiance of the song. Honestly, The Flat Earth has such a great message. I highly recommend it.
The Flat Earth was not playing when this picture was taken, but during the editing of these pictures I got slap happy with adding lyrics, so I thought it prudent to include this picture.
For Evil Twin Brother, Thomas’ son Graham sat in on drums.
And I was honestly blown away by it. I am 25 and I am not even coordinated enough to play drums. This guy is probably only in early teens and he can already drum like a boss. After the entire show, I was in a small queue of people at the stage while Graham came on stage to pack some stuff up. In afterthought, the drawing I wanted to show Thomas, should I have been lucky enough to meet him, I should have given that to his son and asked him to pass it along. But again. I’m not going to let “what I should have done” ruin the entire experience. Anyway. On with the blog.
I was very excited when Thomas began telling a story about his song Love is a Loaded Pistol.
I knew that it was about Billie Holiday, but I didn’t know it came about as a result of an odd dream he had. It went something like, Billie Holiday came to him in a dream and gave him the line “this time it’s love”, and in the dream he remembers thinking that was a crap, unoriginal lyric. When he woke up, he was mad at himself for dissing the great Billie Holiday, so he promised himself he’d write a song with that line in it. It was really fascinating. When I have dreams, they’re about standing in the rain with David Tennant outside a time machine, or about having to deliver paychecks to honey badgers. Nothing that amazing has happened to me in a dream.
The song is really lovely, by the way. I got one of my best pictures of the night while he was playing that song.
The next song, My Brain is Like a Sieve, I knew that one was going to be played, but I freaked out when he started talking about it. He mentioned the album it’s on (Aliens ate my buick) and myself and another fan in the audience that had brought that album, we waved them in the air. And right before the song I had a good laugh, because Thomas said something to the effect of “If he didn’t remember all the words that would be ironic because the song was called “my brain is like a sieve”.
The next song was Road to Reno. He told a little story before hand about he wasn’t always good at doing his research when he wrote songs (something about getting wrong the year the camaro was released, and how to pronounce it), but I honestly think you can chalk some of that up to being adorable and British, both things that Mr. Dolby happens to be.
The next song was Toadlickers, and honestly, even though it’s fairly country, it’s a really kick ass song. It’s really bizarre. The song mentions Dr. Pepper which is pretty much the only kind of soda I want to drink right now. The song also mentions jaffa cakes, but I’m in the US so I went for some hostess cupcakes on the bus ride home and figured that would be close enough.
I am quite pissed at myself that this shot didn’t come out better but better to have gotten it blurry than to have not gotten it at all. It still makes me giggle.
Now, when Thomas began telling a story about the next song (“I Love You Goodbye”) I really freaked out. The album it’s on (Astronauts and Heretics) might be my favorite Dolby album. I had known vaguely that it was about New Orleans, but hearing the story he told about it was fascinating.
Again, this wasn’t the song playing when this picture was taken. I’m not that good at remembering what particular song was playing when a particular picture was taken, but I wanted to include this shot anyway. He’s facing my direction again, so there. 😛
The next song was Europa and the Pirate Twins, which is a wonderful, peppy song. I have known it for years, since my first Thomas Dolby obsession when I was in college. So in addition to just generally kicking ass, it’s a bit nostalgic for me. I used to watch the music video on the computers in the dorm computer lab all the time. It’s just a nice song to groove along with.
Now, I had known beforehand that he was going to play the song “Field Work” which he wrote with Ryuichi Sakamoto, but I still spazzed when he began telling a story about it. It’s one of my favorites, and the song inspired what I consider to be one of it not the best drawing I have ever done, which was done several months ago.
So now whenever I hear this song, it makes me think a lot of the color green.
The next song he played was Airhead. I freaked out a bit because it’s one of my favorite, favorite, favorite Dolby songs, which is also on the album which I brought along with me. It’s one of those songs that is also nostalgic for me because I used to listen to it a lot when I first discovered Mr. Dolby’s music. I still think of the video and these ridiculous tight, bright red leather pants that were worn in said video. In fact, I have taken my tumblr blog title (Little miss door ajar) from a lyric that I borrowed from this song. It’s a great song and despite it’s lighthearted sound, it is a really intelligent song. Which, given the title, sounds like a paradox, but I promise it’s not. 😄
The next song was Hyperactive, and naturally, as with every song, I freaked out when he started playing it. It’s a great, groovy song. Translates pretty well live. I did miss the trippy background vocals, but if I wanted to hear the song sound exactly like the record, I’d listen to the record. There’s something to be said about people who are so consistent they can produce live the sound they had on the album, but I don’t mind live versions being different at all.
Of course, being that this is a Thomas Dolby concert, one cannot escape She Blinded Me With Science. It really is a great song, but it’s not nearly his best, not by a long shot. That being said, I prefer the song live. It needs that energy.
Then, they walked offstage. I clapped so hard and screamed so much during that, that my arms still hurt and my throat is still a bit scratchy, and it’s been three days. I almost had to stop clapping, my arms hurt so bad. 😄
The encore consisted of Spice Train, and Silk Pyjamas. This made me spaz.
Spice Train is a wonderfully funky song, and everyone at this point was up and dancing. I probably looked like an idiot, but I don’t care. When I hear music, it makes me want to move a certain way. And I move that way, and damn to hell what anyone thinks. It’s that complete abandon that I love about it. That complete freedom to move exactly the way you want to move.
Silk Pyjamas was one of those favorites that I never, ever thought he would play live in a million years. He had a wonderful story to tell about Silk Pyjamas where the record company wanted him to release a version in Spanish. They wrote it out phonetically for him and he recorded a spanish version and then never thought of it again. Then, he had to make an appearance on Spanish tv, which was lip synched. But it was the Spanish version. He didn’t know any of the words, but the crowd knew them all.
Then, the show really was over. And I had no idea what to think or feel. I queued up by the stage with some other fans for a bit, but the drummer told us our best bet was the tour bus out back.
I didn’t get a concert tee shirt, which I am regretting a bit, but at the time I didn’t want to deal with the queue. And I thought perhaps I had a shot to run into Thomas outside, so I was kind of eager to get out there.
Unfortunately I did not get to meet Thomas. I did hang out outside for a while with some other fans, and this lovely older gentleman let me wear his jacket while we were all standing in line to record our messages for the time capsule. It was kind of touching that someone else was willing to stand out in the cold so I could wear their jacket. I almost felt guilty.
While waiting for my ride, I pulled up the songs “I live in a suitcase” and “Oceanea” on my phone. It was an amazing experience, this entire concert, but I was a bit melancholy and sad because it was over. I looked forward to it for so long that I was a bit downtrodden that I didn’t have it to look forward to anymore.
It was honestly a wonderful experience. I don’t want to call it “once in a lifetime” because if Thomas tours again, I will be seeing him again. And hopefully meeting him. Since I’ve gone through this experience once, I will be better prepared the next time around, should I be lucky enough to get a next time.