"Sphere of Imagination"

Don't worry, Diamondbag fanatics-you didn't miss a gig.


Everybody can exhale now. There, that's right. Do you feel better? Good.

"But wait," you ask. "If I didn't miss a gig, then why I am reading a gig summary?"

You're reading a gig summary because I felt like writing one. No one said the journals had to always be about Diamondbag gigs, did they? Besides, if you're reading this, you must be one sad lonely son of a bitch in desperate need of entertainment in any format. So sit back, relax, and enjoy my recount of a weekend that featured 3 glorious shows that collectively raised my consciousness to new heights of enlightenment.

Thursday, April 17, 2003: Jon Townsend at the Lakewood Bar & Grill

After watching the Stars kick some Oiler ass (note that as all Houston residents can attest to, teams nicknamed "Oilers" traditionally suck ass in the playoffs), the gang descended upon the Lakewood Bar & Grill for an acoustic show from Jon (with help from his sidekick Jay). Jon has written a number of tunes that should have been hits if this were a perfect world, but of course this world does in fact suck. How else can you explain crap like that abysmal Kid Rock/Sheryl Crow duet blasting from every car stereo in town, while Jon classics like "Bye Bye Bye" and "Years Away" exist only on old TDK SA-90 cassettes that most of us can't even play anymore? I tell you it just ain't right.

In addition to his throng of self-penned tunes, Jon always plays a bunch of his favorite cover songs at his acoustic gigs as well. You can always count on Jon to deliver heart-felt renditions of his all-time favorite songs, whether it's his beautiful version of "Have You Never Been Mellow" or his acapella rendering of"Escape (The Pina Colada Song)." Sadly, this particular night was lacking Jon's usual show-stopping performance of "Don't Give Up On Us Baby," but we can always hope for it next time. Even though Jon denied us his exquisite David Soul interpretation, he more than made up for it with impromptu run-throughs of four classic tracks from THE END, the legendary Plano progressive rock band from the early 80s. Former End bassist Simon Martin happened to be in the crowd at LBG that night, and (like Nigel in the final scene of This Is Spinal Tap) the lure of his old bandmate Jon onstage was simply too strong for Simon to resist. Simon kicked grabbed Jay's guitar, gave him a swift kick in the nuts, and soon Jon & Simon were blistering through an acoustic version of "Sphere of Imagination" that left the crowd utterly speechless. In fact, I suffered third-degree burns from holding a lighter aloft for the entire duration of the tune. (I do not mean to imply that "Sphere of Imagination" is a long song-but let's just say that the cease and desist order from Rush arrived at the LBG before the song was even halfway finished)

If Jon and Simon had quit at that point, we would have all been happy. (Trust me) But instead, they treated us to two more lost End classics, "Caravan" and "City Dreams." It was suddenly 1983 all over again and I was filled with visions of Polar Bear Ashburns, Rockyanos Pizza, and working the drive-thru at Burger King. Thanks for taking me back to the glory days, guys-the days when I was forty pounds overweight, had never kissed a girl, and drove a 1976 Pinto station wagon with wood paneling and a pink/red plaid interior. THANKS A FUCKING LOT.

All kidding aside, it was really a great moment for all eight of us in attendance. It was something I would be thrilled to tell my grandkids about someday, if it weren't for the fact that I ama) already forgetting many of the details due to the tremendous amounts of alcohol I consumed that night,andb) sterile from the massive amounts of chemotherapy and radiation I received during my bone marrow transplant. But I assure you, it rocked the house. Jon will be back at LBG for another acoustic gig at LBG on Thursday, May 1st, and although I doubt he can top what happened last week, it will still be a show to remember. Be there.

And maybe we'll get to hear "Don't Give Up On Us" this time. I can dream, can't I?

Saturday, April 19, 2003: Annie Lennox and No Commitment

No, they didn't play together silly. How would they have decided who opened for who? Although in all truth, Annie could have used No Commitment (or TBFKANC, as they can't seem to decide on their new name) on her bill, as she only played for 90 minutes and had no opening act. That meant her show at McFarlin Auditorium cost about $1 a minute, but let me assure you that I am not complaining. I've been waiting twenty years to see Annie live, and it was everything I'd hoped it would be.

Like most people, my first memory of Eurythmics involves cows and orange hair. The video for "Sweet Dreams" was everywhere in the summer of 1983, and Annie and Dave became instant stars. However, yours truly was not impressed. After all, I was too busy rocking out to the greatness of Journey and Loverboy (not to mention the aforementioned The End!) to pay much attention to some weird chick with an orange crew cut and some long-haired hippy dude walking around a field of cows with what looked like an Atari 5200. That's not to say that Eurythmics failed to make an impression on me, though. That summer, I was visiting my grandmother in the San Fernando Valley and I got horribly sick-you know, the kind of sick where you have a 104 degree fever and you're completely delirious for two days due to lack of sleep and body fluids. I don't remember much from those two days, but I do remember that I could not stop seeing the image of Annie's orange hair and those cows running through my brain. I thought I was going insane, and who knows-maybe that was the actual point where I became the true freak that you all know and sometimes like.

After I recovered from my madness, I went back to listening to Krokus like any good 16-year-old from Plano would. But the next summer, here came Eurythmics again-this time with a beautiful ballad called "Here Comes the Rain Again." And something occurred to me: "This chick is kinda hot." Not that I would admit that to anyone, mind you. I simply went back to my Sammy Hagar and Billy Squier and kept my interest in Eurythmics to myself.

The next summer, I was finally a high school graduate and had (for lack of a better term) "turned the corner" musically. I had discovered the greatness of U2 and early Springsteen, and had begun to shun the likes of Bryan Adams and Quiet Riot (at least until The Great Vinyl Renaissance of 1996). And when I first saw the video for "Would I Lie to You," I finally admitted to the world what I had secretly known for years: I was a Eurythmics fan. It didn't hurt that the song rocked, either.

As the years went by, I became a bigger and bigger fan, even as the band's popularity waned in America. Everyone knows that I'm not much of a dance music fan, so many are shocked to find out that Savage is in fact my favorite Eurythmics album. Any disc with both "You Have Placed a Chill In My Heart" and "I Need a Man" is unquestionably a classic, even if only two songs on the entire album feature any guitar at all. And have you ever seen the video for "(I Love to listen to) Beethoven?" Holy crap-Annie with long blonde hair. Yowza.

When Eurythmics split up after We Two Are One in 1989, I had still never seen them live. They simply didn't tour much in America, as I guess it didn't make much sense for them to since they could pack houses everywhere else in the world. When Annie put out the amazing Diva CD in 1992, I was praying for a solo tour-but no, she played one show in Central Park. And then she did no touring for Medusa in 1995, and I was once again distraught. Annie was now in the #5 with a bullet on my list of "Favorite Artists I've Never Seen Live," which is simply not a very long list anymore. After all, I've seen just about everyone there is to see over the years. There were a few, though, that somehow managed to slip through the cracks over the years.

And then came 1996 and 1997, when the gloriously impossible happened. In a two-year period, I saw Fleetwood Mac (my childhood favorite), the original KISS, Prince, and even the Sex Pistols. The only thing missing was a Smiths reunion.and, of course, Annie. When I first heard about the upcoming Eurythmics reunion in 1999, I thought I was finally going to get my chance. But alas, the band only played two shows in America-one in LA, and one in New York. I did everything I could to find tickets and transport, but it was simply not to be. I was despondent.

Four long years later, it finally happened. Annie has a new record coming out in June, and decided to do a short tour of America before the record's release. When I found out she was finally going to play Dallas for the first time in almost twenty years (and at tiny McFarlin Auditorium to boot), I was filled with a joy not felt since Nathan Vasher picked off that Nebraska pass with two seconds left in Lincoln last year (that really kicked ass folks).

So how was it, you ask-was it worth the wait? Could twenty years of expectations possibly be met in one ninety-minute set? Oh yeah. I just hope it's not twenty years until I see her again. She is simply the best female soul singer of the last thirty years. No one can touch her. The show made me feel like I was 17 again-until I realized that Annie's keyboard player was Adam Wakeman, son of Yes' Rick Wakeman. And once again, I felt like the old fuck that I am. But I didn't care.

$1 per minute? It was a bargain.

After the high of the Annie show (and finding out that both the Mavs and Stars had won their playoff games while I was inside McFarlin), I was off to the LBG once again for the TBFKANC show. Now if anyone I know can compete with Annie's amazing voice, it's Steph. As one anonymous fan happened to say in the LBG bathroom:"That bitch can sing."

And other than his needless usage of the word bitch, he was right. Steph rules.

Eric was out sick on this night, but the band did a great job anyways. Once the masses recovered from the sight of a clean-shaven baby-faced Jon, the dance floor was packed and the booze was flowing. In a shocking twist, I kept my alcohol consumption to a minimum as I was still woozy on Annie. The guys were kind enough to bring me up for "Cherry Cherry" and "Sweet Caroline," and it was quite a different feeling to sing those songs sober for a change. Did you know I can actually sorta sing on key when I'm not looped on Tuaca and Ace Pear Cider? Who would have believed it?

As 2:00 approached, one thing became abundantly clear: Angela, Jay's lovely fiancée, was lit like a Christmas tree. When we got back to Matt & Sarah's for the obligatory after-party, Angela stormed into the kitchen demanding Jack Daniels. Matt was probably not happy that all his booze was gone before he even arrived at his own party, but hey-you give the sauce to the cute girls. It's the law. As the party wound down about 4 a.m., I hauled my exhausted yet fully satisfied self home. It had been quite a weekend of music-one I had waited almost twenty years for. Just hearing those amazing songs from my youth performed in person for the first time was something I will never forget.

Oh yeah-Annie Lennox didn't suck either.

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