Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tom Waits Live in Atlanta, GA

One of the best descriptions of Tom Waits I ever read was this from an article about the Atlanta '06 show:

Tom Waits looks like a scarecrow and sings like a monster. He growls and howls, he whispers, he wheezes like a muted trumpet.

Needless to say, his voice isn't for everyone. But its grainy texture and peculiar expressiveness, along with Waits' mysterious persona and noirish songwriting, have made this avant-garde crooner one of popular music's most adored cult figures.

Enough people know and care about Tom Waits that his tour-opening show Tuesday night at the Tabernacle sold out in less than half an hour. He has no new record to promote, which hardly mattered. Waits rarely tours — this was his first Atlanta performance in about 30 years — and you never know when the 56-year-old artist is going to hang up his performing career and devote his life to some marginal pursuit, like junk collecting or knife throwing.

I've been lucky, I've been able to see a lot of the artists whose work I revere, leaving only a handful I have not yet seen (and some of those are dead, like Joe Strummer with The Clash or Johnny Cash). Tom Waits definitely resides high on that list.

And it's not the same as being in the building and hearing Waits' razor-bladed crooning or those odd stories he tells, but NPR and All Songs Considered hooked up those who didn't get tickets, or in the case of the recent Tom Waits tour dates, those of us who didn't live anywhere near "PEHDTSCKJMBA" (the acronym for each of the tour's stops: Phoenix, El Paso, Houston, Dallas, Tulsa, St. Louis, Columbus, Knoxville, Jacksonville, Mobile, Birmingham and Atlanta), with a recording of the last date of the Glitter and Doom Tour in Atlanta (includes a set list). Want to download it and have it for your very own forever and always? Greg over at Captains Dead can provide that for you here for the next month.

Then head on over to Anti-Label Blog while you listen to either version. Tom Waits may inspire you, he may scare you, but the man will definitely entertain you regardless. Or make you scratch your head, cause the "best airport food" is in Tulsa, OK? For real?

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