The Fillmore- 10/23/98 9:00 PM
Well, the Fillmore show started with a two-person gig. There was a girl who sounded something like Courtney Love and her sidekick guy on the electric guitar. They weren't bad, but I'm probably not going to rush out to buy an album, either. It doesn't help that I don't even really know who they were...
At about 10:00, Everything came out and played. I wasn't really expecting much, since I only have heard that one "Hooch" song, and I don't particularly like it much. But they were surprisingly good! Their lead singer was very energetic, and at one point (during Hooch) he came down and danced in the crowd with us. It was a pretty good move, I think. Their sound was definitely entertaining. During their performance, a couple of us up front noticed David watching from the balcony at the left of the stage. (Side note, when we were pointing out David to those around us, a guy next to me said "Who's he?" I was appalled. I asked him, "Uh, who are you here to see?" Apparently he was a friend of some of the guys from Everything, so I cut him some slack. He also cleared away from the stage a little when Cracker came on to make some room for us diehards.) Anyway, we also noticed up there someone else with David.... I don't want to spoil it for those of you who haven't seen any shows on this tour, so I will refer to this person as the mystery guest (MG). Let's just say it was pretty exciting when I realized that MG would probably be playing with Cracker!
Well, the show started with "Been Around the World" and I was pressed up against the stage at Bob's feet. The crowd was great, and even on the new songs, there were plenty of people singing, myself included, and I think the band was happy with that (so was I, of course!) The set list included the following: (no particular order)
Pictures of Matchstick Men Teen Angst I See the Light The Shiner Song Mr. Wrong Euro-Trash Girl Big Dipper 100 FPM Low Take Me Down to the Infirmary The Good Life Seven Days Been Around the World (opener) I Want Out of the Circus The World is Mine Wedding Day (duet with MG and Johnny) 2 more songs by MG (can't tell you or it'd give it away!)It was really amazing to be so close to my favorite band- WOW. They were just awesome. At one point in the show, the MG commented how honored he/she (haha) was to be on stage with a classic rock and roll band! The crowd went nuts. I went by myself to this show, mainly because my girlfriend, who likes Cracker also, doesn't quite like them as much as me, and not quite enough for back to back nights, and I couldn't convince anyone else to shell out the dough, so I was on my own, but that was fine by me.
So then they came back for an encore, and David told us how there had been an internet simulcast of the show, and there was a vote for one of the encore songs (on the internet).... (by the way, did anyone know about this on the list? I don't ever remember anyone saying anything about it...) So anyhow, he was expecting Pictures of Matchstick Men to win, and since they already played that during the show, they would be off the hook, but... to his and the bands surprise, the cover of the Carpenter's "Rainy Days and Mondays" won the vote, and so even though they have never really played it live, they gave it a shot. The MG played the drums and David had all on the lyrics written on a sheet in front of him. The funny thing is, he still forgot one of the lines... :) But it was still fun, and the band had a little celebration when they finished the song. The other two songs in the encore was another from the MG, and then finally "St. Cajetan" It was definitely a great show, they played until 1:30 AM, and I probably could have gone another few hours, but I was able to find solace in knowing that I still had one more show. So I went home and got some sleep...
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As I posted earlier in the week, the show was sent out over the internet (http://www.broadcast.com/music/concerts/cracker/ ) and still there for anyone who wants to hear.
As always I was on the Johnny side of the stage. So OK, Already, to me he is THE "Lead Guitar-Stud"... I mean his on stage presence .... AW hell, there is JUST something about the boy and his guitar ... ANYHOO... after I elbowed this really tall, well over 6 foot, tall guy outta my way I had a clear view for the rest of the night. And glad I am too.
The Mystery Guest is ----drum roll---- Joan Osborne. Her songs with the band just blew me away. Her on-stage chemistry with Johnny is amazing. The song she did from her upcoming album was great (no idea what its called). I'll be thinking about that performance for many years to come. Definitely the best Cracker moment outta the 5 or 6 shows I've been to. I've been struggling to find away to describe it.... she and Johnny have a chemistry that is sensual/sexy, but in a classic way; not the post Madonna explicit kind of sexy. Think Lena Horne .... just a glance can causes a heat wave.
She'd walk up very close to him as if to sing in his ear, and he'd smile and keep staring down at his guitar, but his vibe was just as strong and as sensual as hers. After the song, David said he wasn't sure what to play next then told Johnny that he was to sing one. Then he and Joan did a duet of 'Wedding Day' which was equally wonderful.
The Camper song for the night was Matchstick men, and there was a polka sung in German, at least it kinda sounded like German. I just love it when they do a polka. As for the rest of the set list, well others have posted that.
As for the encore, well what can be said? I mean, Cracker fans from web world wanted the Carpenters cover 'Rainy Days and Mondays' so that's what we got .... in 2 keys, with Joan on drums, to add that authentic Carpenters touch. It kinda ended when David forgot some of the words, and just said "aw shit" ....
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Wow. This was only my second time seeing Cracker. I had last seen them at The Fillmore in the Fall of '96, when their opener was Sparklehorse. For some inexplicable reason (and I am KICKING myself now), I missed their tour in the Fall of '97. Think I might have been appearing in a theatre show then -- that's the ONLY reason I would have ever missed seeing them (or seeing them listed) playing in my city.
I was really pumped for the show, and the added treat was that Joan Osborne sat in. We staked out places close to the stage early on. I don't remember the opening band at this point. But once Cracker took the stage, the real fun begun.
As always, they played for at least 2 hours, giving more than a fan's money's worth. Thanks for the affordable tix, guys! As a side note/comparison, I often spend my money on seeing a certain Warner Bros. male pop artist (who shall remain nameless here), and his ticket prices are becoming out of sight. He now won't let anyone near him to talk to him at his after-show autograph sessions UNLESS you've bought his high-priced merchandise AT the show, from HIS vendors. It basically costs $80-150. to see and speak with this pop "idol". Sheeesh. Cracker, may you never become commercial greedy pigs like Mr. C.I., Pop "Star".
Anyhoo, enough of that, and back to our story!: Cracker played many songs from the new "Gentlemen's Blues" album, and Joan did some pretty fine backup on at least four of 'em. She was really vamping, strutting the stage, and alternated looking faux-haughtily at the band or teasing Johnny with looks and cat-strut poses. The crowd was just eating her up, and the sexual tension in the room increased exponentially every time she came out from backstage to help out on another song. And she was doin' some mighty fine wailin' on that backup!
The new guys in the band were great and fit in perfectly. Kudos and congrats to you.
The only bummer was the usual assortment of lunkheads who stormed the front, crushing the people who had staked out positions HOURS earlier. As always, these drunken frat-yahoos persisted in dancing badly, moshing, spilling beer, shouting and whistling loudly in everyone's ears, and continually yelling out "Dave! 'Take The Skinheads Bowling'!!" And even when it was obvious that Dave wasn't going to play that song that night, they persisted.
I was totally psyched in advance to hear "I Want Out Of The Circus"; to be propelled aloft by that twirling, skirling mad-dervish of a song and it's circus-polka-esque refrains. Yeehah! I wasn't disappointed. However, my fantasy of twirling the floor in a drunken, spinning waltz with someone, both mad on the music, never came to fruition -- because the place was mobbed. Oh, well. I'll do it at home and imagine I'm in the Fillmore again. :-)
I absolutely LOVE it when Johnny plays his Western-type tunes and guitar riffs. You can tell that he still loves playing that stuff. I take it that he used to be in a band of that type down in SoCal in the old days, perhaps during his hairstylist hey-day? Johnny, you are my Southern guitar god. (My East Coast guitar god being Jerry Miller of The Spurs, in Boston -- and my West Coast guitar hero being Adam Elk of Adam Elk in San Francisco, formerly The Mommyheads -- a band which also contained Jeff Palmer of Granfaloon Bus!! Small world, no?)
The worst bit was waiting outside in the cold, chilly fog, underdressed (note to potential tourists: S.F. is @#$%ing freezing most of the time -- esp. in the late fall!!). My feet were so cold in my sandals that I was alternately tucking 'em up some strange guy's pant leg just to keep warm. But apparently, the boys were too busy schmoozing, mooning over Joan, and ordering in a tasty, hot pizza pie to come down and visit with the hungry fans. We waited for about an hour outside, shivering, and then gave up.
Due to bad misinformation, I did not attend the next evening's show at Slim's, and I am still kicking myself for that one. I had heard that it was sold out and very expensive to get into anyway. Hope the Bass Tickets guy who told me that burns in hell for that misinfo.;-) I went to see Adam Elk instead at The Hotel Utah.
I did, however, show up after the gig was over, and hang around the back door/gate/parking lot of Slim's, hoping to finally meet my heroes that night. There were some other diehard fans there, from the East Coast, including Karen (a friend/acquaintance of the band) who had flown out specially just to see Cracker. We bonded, and waited. She filled me in on what I had missed that night -- apparently another stellar gig!
Finally, we spotted Johnny leaving with Joan, and asked if we could get a picture and autograph. He put her in a taxi (she was off to a recording gig in Germany) and very graciously spent time with us.
One by one, the guys trickled out of the club or tour bus and we got pix and 'graphs with 'em all. What gents. Even David was coaxed off the bus and we pestered him with questions and trivia and pleases and thank yous.
The next day, I was able to attend the KFOG Private Concert to see Cracker perform live and plugged-in, at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. Let me just say that I will NEVER in my life forget that day. It was like being in the womb with Cracker -- the sound was so intimate and incredible. I nearly started crying when they began their set with "Been Around The World" and I beheld that sound. Just to hear how each instrument came in, and it went from quiet to loud and louder, and the guitar riffs. Incredible. A seminal musical experience. THIS is why I go to live music, my friends. It holds a power like no other medium. Not religion nor theatre nor mainstream movies can give you the honest high that a hit of live, pure, fiery rock and roll can bring -- and Cracker are the preacher-men to give you that dose of Holy Roller Cracker Soul-ahh.
The concert was being beamed out live to local KFOG listeners. Just unbelievably perfect sound and production. What an honor and a memory. Johnny's guitar playing was just incredible, and the guys were totally relaxed and joking around between the songs. It was plu-perfect. Thank you, guys!!!
Your loyal and devoted fan.
PLEASE COME BACK TO THE BAY AREA SOON!!! ~:-)
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