21 January 2008, J-Bird @ 9:33 pm
Tom Waits “At The Cirkus” Crystal Cat (CC512-13)
Cirkus, Stockholm, Sweden, July 14, 1999
01 Lucky Day Overture/Step Right Up
02 Black Rider
03 Jockey full of Bourbon
04 Jesus Gonna Be Here
05 Get Behind the Mule
06 Walk Away
07 Chocolate Jesus
08 Hold On
09 Eyeball Kid
10 What’s He Building?
11 A Little Rain
12 Invitation to the Blues
13 Hang Your Head Down
14 Tango Til They’re Sore
15 Innocent When You Dream
16 16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought Six
01 Shore Leave
03 Fillipino Box Spring Hog
04 Come On Up To The House
05 House Where Nobody Lives
07 Heart Of Saturday Night
08 Goin’ Out West – July 13, 1999 Cirkus
09 I Can’t Wait To Get Off Work – July 13, 1999 Cirkus
10 Picture In A Frame – July 13, 1999 Cirkus
11 Who Are You – July 13, 1999 Cirkus
12 Heartattack and Wine – July 13, 1999 Cirkus
13 Time – July 13, 1999 Cirkus
14 Chocolate Jesus – September 27, 1999 “Late Night with D. Letterman”
This release is excellent! Tom Waits meets Crystal Cat, nuff said.
This was Tom Waits’ first full tour since 1987. For 12 years he only played an occasional benefit show. Thankfully he returned in full force as if he never missed a beat. This tour was in support of the excellent Mule Variations album. This was the seventh show of the tour, and only the second in Europe (the first European show was the night before at the Cirkus heard in the bonus tracks) so it is still early on and everyone sounds fresh and vibrant.
The sound quality is a gorgeous 10 out of 10, the balance between instruments is perfect. Keyboards snake through all this percussion like an asp then suddenly crisp guitars rise from nowhere like a phoenix. This music at times can be like a carnival of sounds, and sometimes it is delicate and calm. Crystal Cat do an excellent job of balancing the sounds(especially the vocals), and there is a definite audience presence as well which adds a warmth and reminds us this is a concert. Anyone who collects Crystal Cats knows what I mean. There is a reason they say “collect ‘em all”. The packaging is beautiful typical Crystal Cat booklet with a nice article and great photos.
The performance is outstanding. About half of the material is from Mule Variations, and the rest is fairly career spanning with material from Rain Dogs, Swordfishtrombones, Small Change, and others. The between song stories are very amusing, some examples: Before “Get Behind the Mule” Tom says “before people wrote songs about automobiles they wrote songs about the original automobile, the mule”; before “What’s He Building?” he says “My neighbor’s name is Cunningham, I wonder if you’re a ham you weren’t very cunning”, and at one time he asks the audience “Should I play a new one or an old one?” the audience of course responds “an old one” Waits replies “You Bastards!” The whole set is full of these sorts of exchanges between Waits and the audience. Over all it is very entertaining and shows how loose of an atmosphere exists at Tom Waits’ concerts.
The highlights are too many to list, all the songs are performed with great passion. The new material from Mule Variations is outstanding. “Get Behind The Mule”, “Come on Up To The House” and the beautifully poignant “Hold On” are a few. The ever creepy “What’s He Building In There?” and the classic “Invitation To The Blues” are wonderful. The Band: Smokey Hormel – guitar; Larry Taylor – bass; Barry McGough – keyboards; and Andrew Borger – drums/percussion execute this material perfectly. Their music is the perfect compliment to Tom Waits storytelling.
The liner notes of this disc say it all: “Tom Waits – What an Entertainer!”
I consider this the best Tom Waits cd in my collection, Highly Recommended!
J-BirdIf you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)