Live Shots

Heights Theater
Saturday, November 12

Eardrum's benefit for victims of the recent flooding was a typical Eardrum gig -- good band, good cause, good venue, lousy turnout.

It's the kind of predicament you'd expect from a rock and roll band that's between accordion players. Ed Gorman's departure has taken Eardrum back toward its folk-thrash origins, and seldom is a band described as "weird" with such big grins.

The small turnout caused the group to abandon plans for two sets and just play all night. Even without Gorman's lilting Irish tenor, guitarists Gordon Greenleaf and Jimmy Mac carried harmonies to a level seldom heard around the local rock scene, while bassist Brian Shirk proved why he currently holds the lead in the fast, loud and comprehensible vocals category. Mac's anthemic "Feer O'Beer" -- or at least the version played at this show -- is one of the few songs around that could lead to moshing in a St. Patrick's Day parade. Greenleaf's "Wasted Time" and Shirk's "I Remember You" combined complex lyrics with an instrumental attitude for a performance that managed to be introspective without moodiness or angst. It's these peculiar juxtapositions that have created a loyal, albeit small, fan base.

If local relief agencies were hoping for a huge influx of cash from this event, they were disappointed. But those who showed up were treated to an entertaining chapter in the ongoing saga that is Eardrum.

-- Jim Sherman

The Rolling Stones
The Astrodome
Sunday, November 13

I missed the Stones at Altamont; I was two. Brian Jones was fished out of a swimming pool long before I knew that he mattered, and "Jumping Jack Flash" -- God help me -- makes me think of Whoopi Goldberg. The point being: I ain't no Stones purist, and as far as I'm concerned, every Stones tour has been a nostalgia tour. I've seen other acts in the Dome, from Charley Pride to U2, and I know to expect that the sheer scale of any event held there will erase all semblance of personal meaning from the proceedings. That being said, it remains that the Stones ... umm, how do you say this? The Stones fucking rocked.

They had to warm up to it, though. The show started shaky, but by the time saxophonist Bobby Keys prodded an already primed crowd with his solo turn on "Miss You," the band had fallen into line like a churning straight-six. If this really is the greatest rock and roll band this planet can offer, it'd be hard to complain.

It hasn't hurt that Jagger and Richards have aged into gargoyles instead of geezers, allowing them to scowl into their Geritol years without looking silly. And it never hurts when you can play a two hour set of greatest hits that every member of your audience has already attached indelibly to some important event in their lives.

Still, it seems somehow odd to me that the Rolling Stones, now so far removed from the places where rock and roll is born, are able to rock so convincingly. There've been greater mysteries I suppose, but this is the only one I'd pay $55 to ponder again.

-- Brad Tyer


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