Buffalo Tom Still Know How To Sweep The Floor of Brighton Music Hall…25 Years Later.

12 Dec
Images supplied by Josh Pickering

Bill and Tanya duet on Don´t Forget Me

It all began with Birdbrain: ”Birdbrain needs 1 ticket.”  We stood on Brighton Avenue against the maroon painted backdrop of Allston´s Brighton Music Hall – looking suspiciously out of place.  Isn´t that a pre-requisite required of anyone who respects the music to have come out of Boston?

Remember the blizzard of 1978?  Tanya Donelly sang on Bury my Heart “In the blizzard of ’78 you could fall out of our window and skate all the way to the creamery. It was bitter, it was great.”

Images supplied by Josh Pickering

Tanya Donelly

Musicians´ memories and experiences end up as words and lyrics – represented by a language as limited as their designer allows.

He also recalled the blizzard.  Not Bill, nor Chris – after all, we were at a Buffalo Tom show so it would be fair to assume I am referring to one of the band members.  Not this time.  Another fan in the shadows of the crowd reminisced back to his college days.  The story goes that he was suddenly flung into a totally new realm of music when he heard sounds coming from a neighbouring room on the same corridor.

Intrigued to know more he went in search of the guitar-fueled trail.  Completely and utterly smitten from that point onwards (both unintended but true, sorry).  I am sure that every person in the room had a similar – but different story.

Talking of Tanya, tonight is the first of Buffalo Tom´s 25th anniversary shows in their native and boundlessly-embracing Boston.  Close pals Tanya and Bill completely hold the stage as they duet on Don´t Forget Me (taken from 2011 release, Skins) and 1992 album Let Me Come Over´s Frozen Lake.  Later, Tanya is joined by Fuzzy´s phenomenal ladies Chris Topping and Hilken Mancini on Treehouse.  In the crowd, J Mascis – one of Tanya´s own inspirations (along with Sunday night´s appearance by Come´s Thalia Zedek).

Tanya and Bill connect with an unseen magic that seems to cross into all of our consciousness and draws us into the narrative of each perfectly sung word.  As Tanya lifts her mouth to the microphone we totally can trust in every little mimic of the early Throwing Muses days.  It´s the trademark pout that actually, is much more than just aesthetic.  It is audible and essential.  Music definitely is the more honest way to express an emotion or two.

Ironic how life runs in circles sometimes.

For me, “I read a story about this girl, she was a hermit in her world, her story was much like mine…” – this lyric always rang true for me as a time of pretty misguided and intense teenage adoration for someone.  Oops.  You learn.

The point is, no one can possibly freeze everyone out.  That weekend, the whole room breathed off a mystical cyclical force, oxygenated by mutual respect and nostalgia.

I don´t think one person was in attendance who could not share a story that helped to shape them in some way.

Another 25 years from now, this weekend will likely be a hazy memory.  But a memory, all the same.

Like Tanya told me, aged seventeen, she got herself a fake ID to see her hero, Thalia Zedek (who herself was heavily influenced by Patti Smith).  At half a decade older than T, it goes to show just how influential our peers can be.  Nearly thirty years on (you wouldn´t know it) and Tanya is performing onstage with Bill, Chris and Tom.  Thalia must be somewhere in the crowded hall.

For me, fifteen years ago I first heard Not Too Soon – along with Taillights Fade – on a mix cassette given to me in the depths of insecurity (which have seemingly not fully left me yet!)  I didn’t entirely comprehend just how significant in my life Throwing Muses, Belly and Tanya would prove to be.  I just knew there was a reason and something pretty special was happening.  Music doesn´t need to explain – that is what is so cool – how do we ever know the extent that we are affected by something?  Standing next to me, Tanya and I listened to I´m Allowed.

This is why, even if a ´Boston Scene´ didn´t actually exist in the reality of the musicians and people who created it, it exists by virtue of the amount of lives the music has touched and continues to.

Everyone – everything – is connected.

Bill and Tanya sang “Don´t forget me…” – How could we?  It´s the memories that end up creating the present.

And the future.

Rock lives on – thank God.

(Friday 11/25)

Velvet Roof
Kitchen Door
I’m Allowed
Three Easy Pieces
Impossible – with J Mascis
Sunflower suit – with J Mascis
Birdbrain – with J Mascis
Frozen Lake – with Tanya Donelly
It’s You – with Tanya Donelly
Don’t Forget Me – with Tanya Donelly
Reason Why – with Ted Leo
Late at Night
Your Stripes – with Chris Toppin
Darl – with Hilken Mancini
Treehouse with Tanya Donelly, Chris Toppin, and Hilken Mancini
Taillights Fade
Arise, Watch – with Mike Gent
The Seeker – with Mike O’Malley and Mike Gent
Cortez the Killer – with J Mascis

Images supplied by Josh Pickering

J Mascis


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