Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ed Harcourt At Maxwell's 

The Rufus Wainwright comparisons don't quite nail it--he's too British, not to mention heterosexual--but they're as good a place as any to start with Ed Harcourt. The Sussex musician hit Maxwell's last night as one of the last stops on his current U.S. tour, which apparently featured a show in Woodstock the previous night where there were "about 10 people," according to the artist's own on-stage account. There were maybe 60 people in the back room for this 100-or-so-minute performance on a Monday night, most of whom seemed to thoroughly enjoy his sometimes Tom Waitsian tales of hope and woe.

After a few rough spots early on, Harcourt hit his stride about a third of the way into the show. From there on out, his voice soared, his band (guitar, bass, drums, and trumpet joining him on keyboard for most songs) congealed, and the "God, if only Coldplay were this good" tunes just killed. His bitter British humo(u)r may have been largely lost on the room, but the songs were most definitely found.

A quick post-show chat with the man revealed him to be a chatty, good-natured, but no-b.s. type of bloke with a penchant for drink and Dennis Wilson. Truly a class act.

[I snapped a couple pics during the show, but I need to set up a new online photo sharing account. Hopefully I'll get a chance to post a pic soon. In the meantime, enjoy this video from a 2006 show.]

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Long Goodbye, Bronx Style 

For the first time since 2001, this year I sprung for a Sunday ticket package at Yankee Stadium. You get the same seats for every Sunday home game, plus Opening Day and Old Timers' Day. It's become increasingly harder to get tickets every year, and with this being the last year of the original Yankee Stadium, I wanted to soak it in.

They're making a big deal about the 85 years of history the place has witnessed, and fair enough. Babe Ruth opened up the joint in 1923, and though the house he built was completely gutted and remodeled in the mid-'70s--Yogi Berra has said of the current stadium: "I didn't play here"--it's the only home park I've ever known for my favorite team.

A traditionalist when it comes to the Yankees, I was originally horrified that a new ballpark was being built across the street. I've gone through all the stages of mourning already and have come close to acceptance at this point, though the last regular-season home game--now less than two months away, amazingly--is bound to be emotionally challenging.

Having attended all nine games on my slate so far--and sporting an 8-1 record at them--there are six left. I'm going to try to make an effort to chronicle my take on the remaining ones here.

This past Sunday's game was a neatly played 2-1 win over the A's that was over in a breathtakingly brief two hours and 26 minutes; I'm sure Michael Kaye thought it was manageable. Andy Pettitte was dealing, fanning nine with no walks on four hits over eight innings. Mo pitched the ninth for the save. I believe he's pitched in eight of the nine games I've attended this year, excepting only the Sunday night drubbing the Mets gave them in May.

Metallica doesn't do a whole heck of a lot for me most of the time, but there's really no moment of anticipation more exciting in sports than hearing the initial guitar strains of "Enter Sandman" cueing 50,000 fans to applaud while the greatest relief pitcher in the history of baseball jogs from the bullpen to the mound. I stand and clap in awe every time.

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