Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Charms are Back...BIG

My old favorite band The Charms played TT the Bears Place tonight. They write great songs, have a terrific guitarist, a lead singer that lights up the joint, and their old/new drummer is kicking ass like he's playing to avoid the electric chair- the guy (Prince Frederick) seems more excited to be playing, and somehow seems to get better with every show.

I saw a show last March, and commented about the band looked beat up from the road, and had kind of mailed in a performance, and whined about how bummed I was that the keyboard which had made them sound so unique was now missing from the band. I felt like I lost a friend, like the band would never be the same again.

Well, I am happy to report that The Charms are alive and well- and have never appeared more energized, healthier, or sounded better. The old enthusiasm is even back, the energy that seemed to pulse from the band out into the room was full throttle.

They mixed in old and new songs with nary a dud, with several gems from the soon-to-be-released (now in Best Buy only) "Strange Magic" CD. The new keyboard player (nice kid, but didn't catch his name) kicked ass and shared Frederick's enthusiasm throughout the gig.

I have to tell you, it made me smile to see them having so much damn fun again. I can now see that the missing element a year ago wasn't just the organ, it was the fun. Now I reflect back on my attitude at the gig, feeling sorry for myself that this band, my band, wasn't giving me what I wanted, wasn't pumping out energy like Enron immediately following a manufactured blackout. I quickly discarded memories of nights where I had been at a comedy gig I wasn't emotionally into and had mailed it in myself. They simply weren't giving me what I wanted (probably for the first time) and I pouted like a five year old who'd finally had his binkie taken away. I forgot that bands are often comprised of human beings, and maybe they weren't having the best night of their lives- something I frequently expected them to provide me with the feeling of for forty minutes while they were on stage.

But bands... they're made of people.

I made the worst of it, letting that night rob me of all the great memories I had of great shows. They played a show at Kenny's Castaways in Greenwich Village where Ellie took the mic into the men's room while singiong "Boy's Room". There were great shows at dive bars like Kitty O'Shea's in Beverly (the stage is so small that Ellie can't play her guitar, and I believe there was a power outage once) or Dodge Street Saloon in Salem. There was a show in Quincy where five people showed up, but The Charms played like they were in Madison Square Garden in front of 50,000 screaming fans, leaving it all out on the stage.

All the great times these guys had given me by sharing the music of their souls, and I was ready to write them off. This kicker is that it wasn't cirumstances that made The Charms upbeat tonight, it was their love of playing rock n roll. They were so pumped, that it shocked me to find out that they had had a pretty rough day of traveling and that their van had broken down in New Jersey and much of the equipment they were using was borrowed. Frederick's drum kit was still under the watchful eye of some dude who owns a farm and calls himself "MacGuyver". They had had been pushed to their hotel by a police cruiser and were unable to find a replacement for the van, and now are now making do "with a bucket of bolts."

I went to tonight's show with a state of mind that I would call cautiously optimistic. I hoped for the best, heard the new keyboardist was good etc etc and tried to keep an open mind.

I didn't just enjoy tonight's show, it was so good, it restored my memory of why I love this band so much in the first place. I left feeling like Bogie in Casablanca when he realizes he always have Paris.

Mea culpa mea culpa, mea maxima culpa... may the rock n rolls gods (and The Charms) forgive me for my lack of gratitude, loyalty, and weakness of faith.

The Charms are back.

Bands are made of people... sometimes pretty amazing people.


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