I’ve seen concerts by most musicians I’m even slightly interested in. There are a few, though, who have managed to elude me. I keep a list of these musicians…we’ll call it my Top Ten Concerts To See list. In order to make the list, the band needs to be active with living members who could possibly go on tour. (No matter how much I’d like to see XTC in concert, they’ve never been on the list as Andy Partridge & Colin Moulding don’t talk anymore and they haven’t toured since the early 80s. The Beatles are half dead, so they’ve never been on the list. Death From Above 1979 broke up, so I had to take them off the list. You get the idea.)
Well, I’m happy to say that I got to mark another band off the list on Monday. I had to fly all the way to Boston to do it, but I finally got to see Sparklehorse in concert. I’ve been listening to Sparklehorse for over ten years, but they’ve never put on a show that I could attend. They played in Cleveland and Columbus in 2003, but they’ve never (to my knowledge) even driven through Cincinnati, much less played a show here.
The concert took place at the Paradise Rock Club. I’d never been to the venue before, but it seemed like a decent place. Water leaked on the bassist all night long, but that was the only issue I saw. Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter were playing their opening set when I got there. They were good, but not so good that I felt obliged to buy their CD. I found a spot and gradually moved up until I was just a few feet away from the stage. There was a long wait in between sets. It wouldn’t have been a big deal except I’d been on my feet all day and my back was starting to stiffen up. I’m getting too old for this.
Sparklehorse came out a little after 9:30. They played just about what I thought they would. It was a mix of new songs from Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain and old ones from their debut, Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot. They only played 14 songs (including encore), and I don’t think the show even lasted an hour. I’m not complaining, though. I got to hear a lot of my favorites including “Heart Of Darkness”, “Sad & Beautiful World”, and “Gold Day”. Mark Linkous was suffering from the flu, but his vocals still sounded good. The band was sharp and featured one of the best rock drummers I’ve ever seen. Overall, Sparklehorse met my expectations, and I can say now that the trip was definitely worth it. I was actually glad it was a short show. By the time things wrapped up at around 10:30, I’d been on my feet for over 13 hours. Had it gone on much longer, I probably would have collapsed in a heap on the floor.
If you’d like to hear some Sparklehorse, you can listen to WNYC’s “Soundcheck”. The session was recorded the day after the concert I saw and features a few songs and some interviews. I think you need RealPlayer for it to work properly.