I had last seen and heard Suzanne back in '89, when she gave a free concert during my sophomore year at Northwestern. I enjoyed her music but wasn't a fan or anything. Letting my partner Ziggy know where I was going to be, I hummed a few bars of "Tom's Diner". He displayed a horrified expression and made me vow never to speak of this musical event again. Ziggy's more into new age music such as Tangerine Dream and Philip Glass, you see. Well, it's good to have friends who share our musical tastes when our partners most definitely do not.
I arrived very early even though we already had tickets, as we had planned to have dinner first. Two different security officers suggested that I wait by the flagpole, a block away in front of the post office. I explained to both that I already had a ticket and was just waiting for someone, but finally gave in and moved. So now at last I understood why there was a line in front of a closed post office whenever I went by on the 38 Geary bus after work. But having to deal with this, plus having my purse searched and being frisked and showing my ID, all to get into this place, made me realize why I prefer smaller venues... well, all in the name of national security, I guess...
As the concert was general admission and the few table seats were already filled, we ended up not only right in front of the stage but actually leaning on the stage, another first for me. Fortunately we had earplugs as we were right in front of the stage right speaker.
The opening act, Bob Hillman, was a revelation to me. He played solo acoustic guitar and sang lyrics dripping with irony. I absolutely loved his act, so much so that obadiah was sweet enough to buy me a copy of his latest album after the set. Much of Bob's music is available in MP3 format at his own web site, so I highly recommend you check him out. He reminded me a little of Jonathan Richman in case you like that kind of music.
Suzanne's set was quite good, too. I had forgotten how much I liked some of her songs, particularly "Left of Center". "Calypso" was also a beautiful, unusual piece, and "Caramel" sounded like a good bossa nova song for me to sing at a jazz open mic. And of course, humming and clapping along to "Tom's Diner" with the whole audience couldn't be beat.
From our vantage point I could see all sorts of mundane details. Not just the sweat and saliva that are the inevitable byproducts of live performance. I mean the network of long curved hairs on her pale arms, washed alabaster in the harsh stagelight. The superfluous eyeliner accentuating rather than masking her 40+ years. The fine texture of her thin shirt. The guitarist's face framed with untamed curly locks.
Though I must admit I liked the opening act better, I ended up buying a digital copy of Suzanne's Retrospective album from the Apple Music Store, since it was a good deal at $9.99 for 20 songs. I happily ripped both Bob and Suzanne's albums to my iPod. I look forward to attending more concerts and bringing more music back into my life.