Brother Ben had the pleasure of attending a service by the very Rev. Roky Erickson on Friday night. Here's his report... (cheers Ben)
Roky Erickson & The Explosives, 8/3/07 @ The Abbey Pub, Chicago
I'm admittedly not a Roky Erickson/Elevators fanatic, but I knew a good thing and dig the stuff I do have. Heck, I think I might even prefer The Spades "YGMM" over the TFE version, but you can blame Brother Patrick for that and it's a discussion for another time... So, when I saw the opportunity to catch the Legend in a small setting, I took it -- I'm not completely stupid. Now, over the last couple of years, he has played in Chicago a couple of times -- but, unfortunately, at festivals (Lollapalooza this year, and Intonation Fest last year, I believe), and I avoid festivals. Not that there's anything wrong with 'em, really -- just, most of the music I won't like and I don't do big sweaty, stinky, obnoxious crowds. I'll leave that for Lindsay... Like I said, I knew I had to catch him, because who knew how long this resurgence and his health would last? I even took a chance since this was an "Official Lollapalooza After Party". But, for $25, it was well worth the experience. Incredibly well worth it.
Not a lot of people showed up, which is their collective loss (my estimate is around 200-400 hundred bodies). My guess is the fans of Roky found the show, and that's what really mattered. Older folks, hippies, garage fans, rock fans, even some mighty square lookin' people were there, so Roky clearly cuts across demographics -- which is a wonderful thing. I did expect that some were there due to the film that was released on dvd recently (which I still haven't caught -- after this show, I think I'll bump it up to the top of my Netflix queue). When I arrived, The Last Vegas were already playing (thank gawd), but they were painfully inappropriate to the evening. I won't go into them much, as I could write a whole review of everything they did wrong, but I can sum it up with this analogy: post-1980 AC/DC teaming up with Motorhead but taking themselves too seriously. Oh, and within 15 minutes of me being there, the drummer broke into a solo........I'll leave it at that.
So Roky took to the stage around 11pm, and proceeded to kick out a tight 45-60 minute set. He was in strong form, with only some "thank yous" between tunes (let the guitarist do the talking). His voice, his playing -- everything was spot on. It doesn't seem possible that the Man would be back up there on the stage...but he was, and is. After everything he's gone through, Roky deserves the accolades he's been receiving over the last number of years. Thankfully, he's been able to pull himself up and I was witness to this magic. That's really what it was, magic. He played the "hits", mostly -- Bloody Hammer, Creature With The Atom Brain, Cold Night For Alligators, Don't Shake Me Lucifer, Starry Eyes, The Beast, Two-Headed Dog, You're Gonna Miss Me -- all dead on. The band was tight, the guitarist nailed some fiery leads, and rhythm section was great (though coulda used more bass in the mix). Roky even blazed his way through a few leads here and there, leading the band through The Beast and a stompin' take on Before You Accuse Me (how appropriate for a Chicago show, eh?). (a note: his son, Jagger, was introduced, since he was skulking around the stage a bit, filming the show with a camera)
If The Beast comes to your town...go, don't think twice, it's not alright. You may never get the chance to catch him again. This is an artist. A survivor of a era that most of us only get to hear about. Give the man your money... he's certainly earned it and can finally appreciate it.
Now if you'll all excuse, I'm off to Berrrrr-wyn to catch The Blasters @ FitzGerald's...look for a resume of that one in due course.