I drove by this marquee in Oakley last week and decided right there that I’d go see Marc Cohn in concert on the following Tuesday. I was quite excited as Marc is an old favorite of mine and I’d never managed to catch up with him. Old favorites I’ve never seen are a rarity these days, so I try to mark them off the list when given the chance.
Tuesday night rolled around and I somehow completely forgot about the concert. I sat at home and watched Song of the Sea instead. The movie ended at about 9:30, and the first thing that came to my mind as I turned off the television was this:
Oh damn, Marc Cohn is playing a concert 1.4 miles away right now!
I got all grumpy and vowed to start writing these things down on Post-Its and maybe sticking them to the fridge.
The next morning I woke up and flipped my page-a-day art calendar from Tuesday to Wednesday. I was looking at the picture of the fancy dandy with the poofy hair when I noticed that the date was now showing the 6th, not the 7th. I suddenly realized that Marc Cohn hadn’t put on a concert in town the night before; the show hadn’t even happened yet. I’d gotten my dates mixed up.
So I called up the box office and bought a ticket over the phone.
Later on that evening I walked up to the 20th Century Theatre. The grumbly lady with a clipboard marked me off the will-call list and I went on in. I found a chair with good sight lines off to the side and waited for the show to start.
Marc Cohn and Glenn Patscha (keyboards) came out about 25 minutes later and began performing “Walk on Water” from Marc’s 1991 self-titled debut. I remember having that album on cassette and listening to it on the drive back and forth between Oxford and Cincinnati during my freshman year of college. The songs still sound as good as I remember them.
Kevin Barry (guitar) and Joe Bonadio (percussion) came on stage for “Walk Through the World”, a highlight from Marc’s sophomore album, The Rainy Season. That second release was always my favorite and it was nice to hear something from it. It was also nice to hear that there’s a percussionist out there who can play the djembe without making me want to punch him in the face. Major props to Joe Bonadio for that.
The third song was a cover of the Box Tops’ classic, “The Letter”. That was followed by band introductions and another song from Marc’s debut, “Perfect Love”. All the old dudes in golf shorts put their arms around their current wives and tried to sway to the music. It was quite touching.
Marc told some stories about growing up in Cleveland and shared the sad origins of the next song, “Girl of Mysterious Sorrow”. That one was followed by a raucous version of Willie Dixon’s “29 Ways” which featured some inspired New Orleans-style piano from Glenn Patscha.
My highlight of the night was “Listening to Levon” and “Silver Thunderbird” played back-to-back. This was a surprising highlight for me as I’d completely forgotten that “Listening to Levon”–and the album it came from, 2007’s Join the Parade–even existed. On top of that, I’d forgotten how much I like “Silver Thunderbird”. I’ll have to take both of those off the shelf and give them a listen.
(Marc followed my favorite songs with a blue story about Bonnie Raitt. He specifically asked the audience not to tell anyone, so that’s all I’m going to say about that.)
Marc Cohn’s most famous song, “Walking in Memphis”, came next. It’s a truly wonderful song and a treat to hear live, but I must admit to being disappointed that Marc let the audience sing the best line. If you’ve made it down this far, then it’s a safe bet that you know the line I’m talking about. When it comes down to it, I’m always against audience participation. Grumble, grumble.
The main set wound down with a performance of Marc’s most recent original song, “The Coldest Corner in the World”. It’s from an unreleased documentary called Tree Man and was described by Marc as being his “best brooding Jew ballad”. I just found out about it last Sunday and made the digital purchase on Amazon. It’s a pretty good song for 99 cents. The last song of the main set was called “One Safe Place”. It was the only song of the night that I didn’t know going in. I managed to guess the correct title on my setlist notes, though.
There’s really no backstage at the 20th Century Theatre, so the band just shuffled off to the side of the stage and then shuffled back for their two song encore. The first song was “True Companion”. It’s not one of my favorites, but I guess Marc Cohn is probably contractually obligated to play it every night. The show ended with a much better song, “Dig Down Deep”. Marc managed to weave in bits of Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Tupelo Honey”. It was a good way to end the show.
I then walked on home quite happy that my confusion with the dates hadn’t cost me a chance to see Marc Cohn in concert. I really lucked out there.