Friday, October 8th, 2004
I had decided to go see Tift Merritt at Lee’s last night some time before I knew I’d have a cold, so I briefly considered ditching in favour of staying home and sleeping. Eventually, I elected to dope myself up on medication and head down anyway and I’m glad I did. I liked her first album Bramble Rose well enough but her new one, Tambourine, is a far superior collection. Some have criticized her for branching off from the pretty but rather formulaic alt.country of her debut, but her decision to add rock, soul and gospel into the mix has really paid off. In addition to the honeyed twang her voice gives the countrier stuff, she’s a very effective belter on the more up material, evoking at times Luncida or Emmylou.
I had thought Lee’s would be an overly large venue for her, and while it wasn’t packed by any means, she drew a larger and more enthusiastic crowd than I’d expected. Tift and the band’s easy Southern charm made sure everyone was enjoying themselves, even when they were interrupted for several minutes early on by malfunctions in the keyboards department. The set was an excellent mix of gentler, weepier numbers, some performed solo acoustic by Tift, and all-out electric rockers. I was particularly interested to see her guitarist Brad Rice, who was just announced as part of the new Son Volt lineup. No question, the guy can play, but it was hard to picture the flashy and somewhat goofy guy onstage with Tift alongside the dour Jay Farrar. We’ll have to see how that turns out. Anyway, it was a perfectly entertaining and enjoyable show, and I think I’d say that even if I hadn’t been doped to the gills on antihistamines.
More pics to come later – I tried shooting in RAW and they take ages to process. Update: Pics are done, up here.
Also on the slate last night was the advance screening for I Heart Huckabees, the new film from David O Russell. This has been on my short list of most-anticipated movies all year, and I can give it a head-scratching thumbs up. This movie is weird. I mean, it’s about an existential detective agency – how can it not be weird? It’s certainly the most original movie of the year, that’s for sure. I should admit that I have pretty much no background in philosophy, nihilism, existentialism or other such highbrow cosmic issues, so I had no idea if they were talking sense or smack. I did glean enough from the dialogue to have a good enough understanding of what was going on to follow the film, however, and there were enough moments of laugh-out-loud comedy to keep me entertained, even if I may not have appreciated the broader context. The top-notch cast (Jason Schwartzman, Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Isabelle Huppert, Mark Wahlberg, Jude Law, Naomi Watts) all seem to be having a good time with the material, Hoffman and Tomlin as the husband-and-wife investigators, in particular. It was also nice to see Schwartzman get a decent post-Rushmore role though his unbelievably thick eyebrows were a little distracting. It’s not a film for everyone, very much a “you get it or you don’t” proposition, but if you go and are willing to not shut off your mind for the duration, it could well be worthwhile. If you’re looking for a popcorn flick, however, keep walking.
np – Mission Of Burma / Vs