A rare night out for me. As regular readers of this blog know, it’s next to impossible to pull me away from my desk. A workaholic agoraphobic, that’s me. But when Laird called back in March and asked me if I was on for the Queens, I immediately said, “grab us some tickets, old son, but queek”.
Jesse accompanied us and so my usual qualms about being surrounded by a mass of sweaty strangers were much diminished—these lads make me feel comfortable and safe. The weather was beautiful and we stopped off at O’Shea’s Pub, across the street from the Odeon, fueled up on Guinness and invective and hurried over once we heard the music pounding out through the open doors.
Glad we caught the opening act, Mugison, because they were amazing. Unbelievably good. They’re making big waves in their native Iceland and I can see why. These boys weren’t just putting in time (a la Trans Am, the trio who opened for Tool), they fucking worked for their dime. And completely won over the crowd by giving it their all. Afterwards the lead singer and creative centre of the band came out and signed copies of the CD “Mugiboogie” (playing on my stereo as I type these words). Check out some of their music on YouTube because, I’m telling you, the three of us were in full agreement that we’d love to see them play a full set as headliners and would pay dearly for the privilege.
But, clearly, the evening belonged to the Queens. Josh and the boys were on and from the distinctive opening bars of “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” to the final encore number “Song for the Dead”, they absolutely owned the joint. The fact that they were playing a relatively small venue in Saskatoon, Sask-at-chew-wan never seemed to occur to them—they rocked as hard and long as if they were playing to a crowd the size of a city at a Lollapalooza gig.
Over the past couple of years I’ve conquered some of my fear of big gatherings, constricted spaces and, as a result, have been present for some fucking amazing concerts. Tool, the Pixies, Pearl Jam, Arcade Fire, the oneandonly Buddy Guy. There’s something about the live experience that you just can’t capture in a recording, ripples of electricity surging through the crowd, the band feeding on the energy and then sending it back, a circuit of power and intensity and, yup, love that is as intoxicating as anything I’ve ever experienced.
I had been a fan and admirer of the Queens before the show last night, own at least five of their albums but now I have a renewed and enhanced appreciation for their technical skill, their passion for music, the extraordinary chemistry that unites the band, creating a perfect fusion of minds and talents. They took their repertoire to a whole other level last night and afterwards I was at a loss, trying to put into words what I had just seen and heard. Superlatives, as they are, are insufficient.
One quibble, and this has nothing to do with the band. People would not stop fucking moving. And I don’t mean dancing or pogo-ing to the beat, I’m talking about restlessly roaming about like dumb animals, fucking morons jostling me, coming and going. The sight lines at the Odeon aren’t good and the air circulation practically nonexistent and these idiot fucks couldn’t make up their minds where they wanted to be. Very few people excused themselves and in some cases just plowed right through, figuring the forty bucks they paid for their ticket entitled them to behave like a horny bull moose. One was sorely tempted to hook the feet out of the shithead who was making his third trip past, holding two sloshing glasses of beer and determined to get…somewhere. Eventually I pulled far enough back so that I could hear the music without being disturbed by an eighteen year old with the manners, personal hygiene and I.Q. of a pot-bellied pig.
But, really, it would’ve taken a lot more than meandering teenagers to spoil an incredible evening of music. Everything wrapped up before eleven and afterward we stood outside awhile, ears still humming, grinning stupidly at each other. Two great pals o’ mine and I, sharing a a magic moment before going our separate ways. A quick, rough embrace for Jess, soon to be heading off to Edmonton for a summer job and then on our way home.
“I’m in control,
It’s worth it,
I’m in control,
It’s worth it…”
One of those “holy shit” moments, too uncanny to be a coincidence. I’ll take it at face value.
More than a message, closer to an imperative.
I hear…and obey.