Well yes, it’s true, I’m always rolling out the superlatives when talking about this band. However, delivering a searing performance in a hot, sweaty club with devoted fans singing along to every word is a far more natural thing than doing so in front of a seated studio audience where most of the people don’t know who you are, you’re forced to do a truncated version of your signature song due to time constraints, and the pressure is clearly on to capture that audience, as well as the few million others watching on TV, within the 3:43 minutes given to you.
One of the breathtakingly beautiful things about “Sometime Around Midnight” is the slow build of the story, starting with the lush string introduction (they were joined by the tremendously classy Calder Quartet this evening), and continuing on with Mikel’s soft, dreamlike narration. Ever so slowly it builds up steam and angst as his emotions are stirred by the effects of the music of a club band, the wine, and the unexpected appearance of an ex-girlfriend. By the time she bolts from the place with the new boyfriend, the music is surging, the vocals are soaring, and the jilted lover is left to wander those late-night city streets in blind, feverishly obesessed despair. Trying to convey all that in under four minutes is like, to use a literary analogy, having to write a Reader’s Digest version of, oh I don’t know, War and Peace.
And they pulled it off. Not only did they pull it off — they pulled it off in grand style. The flowing narrative of the story was still there, as was the emotional build and rocket ship propulsion into outer space at its conclusion. All still there. I honestly don’t know how… but it was. Which is a real testament to the talent and vision of this extraordinary band.
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