Guitarist Andy Dunlop climbs the scaffolding
(photo by Timothy Norris of LA Weekly)
Okay, so it was one week ago tonight I was at the Travis show. Yes, I used the word "euphoria" when I tried to explain that night's Travis concert. Euphoria is a noun that means "a feeling of general well-being" and that is exactly what I experienced at that concert at the Troubadour. I love this band. I have seen literally several hundred concerts in my life and I can honestly say that Travis lands somewhere in my top three shows. Of course, I consider Springsteen the greatest live experience ever and I would put U2 right up there because their live show also feels like a spiritual experience, but I had such a high last Tuesday that I honestly cannot even just say that Travis third. Wes has never seen U2, but he has seen Springsteen and, as we left last night he said, "That was the best concert I have ever seen. It was better than Bruce, it was better than David Crowder, it was better than all the others." Some of the others he had seen were John Densmore's band Tribal Jazz, Stray Cats, ZZ Top, Stevie Nicks, and The Pretenders. We both agreed that the best of those seemed like a joke in comparrison to what we saw last night at the very small club known as The Troubadour.
There is so much to say about the Travis show, but let me just go back to the spiritual aspect again and this concept of a feeling of general well-being. As good as the band is at playing their instruments, for as much as the boys rock, for as much joy as just fist pumping, jumping-up-and-down rock 'n' roll brings, I think what I adore the most about Travis is the wonderful, kind, soul-searching, "I want to be a better man" thread that runs through most of the music that Fran, the main songwriter, has blessed us with. What I realized even more as I stood there leaning against the stage last Tuesday night is that I love writers like Springsteen, Neil Finn, Bono, and Fran because, they connect to my heart, they want the same things I want. Their music actually makes the world a better place.
Bass player Dougie Payne
(this is a photo I took as nothing was between
Wes and I and the stage)
Let me give some specific examples from last night. First, Wes and I were literally pushing up against the stage so when the roadie came and taped the set list to the floor, I could see it. I was thinking I shouldn't look because it would take away the element of surprise. But, being a compulsive person, I had to look. As I ran down the songs there were, of course, songs I immediately thought, "Oh, I am looking forward to that one."
However, perhaps my favorite moment in the show came during a group of songs where I had not anticipated being blown away.
Neil Primrose pounding away on the drums
(Photo by Timothy Norris of LA Weekly)
The reason for this is that I was looking at songs thinking, "That is gonna rock" or "Andy will shred on that one" or "Neil is going to pound the heck out of the drums on that one" or "I can't wait to hear Dougie's baseline on that one" or "Frans vocals will just rule on that song" and all those things totally happened. However, the most important moment for me in the show came as a total EMOTIONAL response, it was an extended moment that laid this feeler out with a one-two-three sucker punch to the heart.
Lead singer Fran Healy comes off the stage to make an emotional
connection and sings among the audience during "Falling Down"
(photo by Timothy Norris of LA Weekly)
What I am talking about is what I now call the "trifecta of desire." I got blindsided by two unexpected selections and then reduced to jello by the triple-whammy of an old favorite that I had taken for granted. The first song that I was really surprised by my response on was a song called CLOSER off THE BOY WITH NO NAME ALBUM. I really really love that album from 2007, and I liked the song CLOSER, but I wasn't blown away by it . . . . until I was standing there and the lyrics blew threw me like a gentle breeze and I realized this was everything I wanted and I begin thinking about Chrisy and then I just felt tears streaming down my face as I watched in awe of the band. Consider a sampling of these lyrics from CLOSER:
"And when I see you then I know it will be next to me
And when I need you then
I know you will be there with me
I'll never leave you
Just need to get closer, closer
Lean on me new, lean on me now . . . . "
I know that chorus will not move you to where I was that night, but at the concert, the song hit me in a very powerful way, so powerful that I cannot put it into words. For me, that performance of CLOSER spoke to my desire to be even more at one with my wife.
Then came the big surprise off the new album ODE TO J. SMITH. Prior to that night I had told Wes that I loved the album so much I had a 7-way tie for my favorite song off the 11-song album: "I loved seven songs and just liked four songs." He asked which four I "only liked" and one of them was BEFORE YOU WERE YOUNG. That is the song that followed CLOSER at our concert and it was the perfect emotional follow-up and it was like I had never heard the song before. Check out this sampling of lyrics from BEFORE YOU WERE YOUNG:
"But even then we're never safe
And if you ever need me call
I will be there waiting
When you fall
You know I will
I'll love you forever
I'll never say never . . . ."
Wes and I right after the show right at the spot we were watching the show from
As this song was playing, in the way CLOSER had made me think of Chrisy, this song made me think of my children. At one point I even leaned over and kissed Wes on the head and gave him a pat on the back. In that moment the song spoke to my desire to be the best dad possible for my four children.
I was eating out of the band's hands. And, after that, came pure bliss, an old favorite TURN, but even that one seemed to hit me like never before. It was a song about spiritual longing and wrapped up all my desires. Here's a sampling of TURN:
"I want to feel like I felt before
I want to see the kingdom come
I want to feel forever young
I want to sing
To sing my song
I want to live in a world where I belong
I want to live
I will survive . . . . "
It was fantastic. This song was about the desire to truly live! TURN closed out the show on an emotional high as it was the end of the main set. It was pure . . . Euphoria!
During "Flowers in the Window" the whole band got together;
here Dougie is playing Fran's guitar while Fran sings
(I took this photo)
When the band came back for the encore, after two covers, Fran again turned to this type of song that simply makes me feel good. He brought all the band out to the edge of the stage and they sang FLOWERS IN THE WINDOW. One of their bigger hits, the song was written about his pregnant wife. It too filled me with love, peace, and joy. Here are some lyrics:
"When I first held you I was cold
A melting snowman I was told
But there was no-one there to hold
Before I swore that I would be alone forever more
Wow, look at you now
Flowers in the window
Its such a lovely day
And I'm glad you feel the same
Cos you stand up, out in the crowd
You are one in a million
And I love you so
Let's watch the flowers grow . . . . "
Such a lovely day indeed.