Culture Ahoy!

Ah, to be in Amsterdam! Not only is it warmer there than in Toronto, if I were there, I could see this. I’ve been a devoted fan of Tom Waits ever since the day, it must be 25 years ago now, that I took a flyer on an LP (remember those?) called “Rain Dogs,” thinking “This looks interesting.” As we all know now, “interesting” was scarcely the word for it. I’ve only seen Tom in concert once (word to the wise: avoid the balcony at the Beacon Theater in New York—the acoustics suck), but I’ve seen both of his theatrical collaborations with Robert Wilson, Alice and The Black Rider (thank you yet again, Brooklyn Academy of Music, which brought them from Europe). On second thought, what I liked least about those productions is that Waits didn’t perform the music; the German-speaking chorus of Hamburg’s Thalia Theater simply wasn’t up to the task. To quote the money sentence from this review,

As for Mr. Waits’ music, it’s all in the graze and grizzle of his voice. Listening to his recording of the songs, you’d think you were hearing from the next Kurt Weill; as delivered by the Thalia actors, the score sounded like a stickwork of nursery rhymes. It needed, too, a band that could do what Mr. Waits found that the Californian players on his recording could do: “Frankenstein” the music into something like a beautiful train wreck.

The clip doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that Tom is being better served this time. Still, if it comes to BAM I just might take the excuse to come back to Brooklyn. And if he ever does an album, I’ll be at the till on release day. After all, we’re talking about a man who mined gold from the shit of William Burroughs: think what he could do with a collaborator like Shakespeare!

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