Tonight was the Mark Kozelek show at Gate City Noise. It was really damn good, even if Mark was convinced that he was in Asheville. He kept making "jokes" about "hey, how you hillbillies doing?" and "man it sure is a long way out here. In the Appalachians". He'll be in Asheville on Tuesday night, but that's no excuse. You should always know the name of the city you're in. Especially if you're only playing six US dates. Oh well. I'll forgive him because the show was fantastic.
The dude who opened for him, Warren Gently, is apparently an old friend of his who routinely opens for him in the Southeastern US. I didn't like him very much. Right out of the gate, I thought I might like him. His song structure (at least on the first song) was very much like Kristin Hersh. It went downhill from there. During one song, I had to try hard not to laugh at him because he had a line that went something like "you were there looking like a mess / with your makeup running down your dress". Are you kidding? First off, that's not even a good rhyme. Secondly, although I don't know a lot about women, I do know that makeup doesn't run down one's dress, so much as it does her face. I'm no songwriter, and I don't claim that I could write a good song, but that seems lazy. Why did it stick out so much? I don't know. Moments later, he played a blues-riff driven song whose opening line was actually "I woke up this morning feeling sad". Again, lazy. We're all aware that it's a blues song by the chord structure. The clichéd lyric isn't necessary. This dude should go to jail for that. I mean to have a blues song that starts "I woke up this morning" is probably the king of all cliches. There was one song that I kinda liked. A goofy song, reminiscent of something Randy Newman would sing. Something about "my new girlfriend is going to be prettier than you". It was funny and cute, but instead of being 1:47 or so (which would have been fine), it was about 5:30 in length. It stopped being cute and annoyed the hell out of me by the time it was over.
Mark came on, and I didn't even recognize him at first. He's got all short hair and stuff. He came right out of the gate with an RHP classic "Michael", then played some new stuff that I didn't recognize. "New Jersey" and "Grace Cathedral Park" came early in the set, too. Some Sun Kil Moon songs also in the mix early. I think "Glen Tipton" and "Duk Koo Kim", both fantastic, but with as secure a place in my mind's database. Interestingly, both of those songs have boxing references. I did a little bit of research to find that Mark Kozelek is a fan of the sport, and there's one more reference to boxing on that Sun Kil Moon record. The story behind the boxer named Duk Koo Kim is really interesting, even eerie. Read about it here. He ended with "Mistress", one of my favorite RHP tunes and something else I didn't recognize.
Also, during the show (and the encores), he managed to squeeze in three cover tunes, all of which are mainstays of his performances. One was "Jesus Christ Was an Only Child" by Modest Mouse. Also, there was "All Mixed Up" by The Cars, and the Broadway tune "Send in the Clowns". The highlight, though, had to be during the encore, when he did a stunning rendition of "Katy Song", which I've always thought to be the most heartbreaking songs I've ever heard. It might be a little cheesy, but there's something to that lyric "Glass on the pavement under my shoe / Without you, that's all life amounts to" that gets me choked up every time.
Like Duk Koo Kim, Katy song is incredible, but lengthy. Duk Koo Kim clocks in at about 14:00 (14 is also the number of rounds Duk Koo Kim lasted in his fatal bout against Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini), while Katy clocks in at just over 8 minutes.
For your listening pleasure, here is an mp3 of the album version of Katy Song. Trust me, it's worth sticking it out the whole 8 minutes. I hope the link works I'm still trying to figure this mp3 posting thing.
Sun Kil Moon Ghosts of the Great Highway