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Re: Jimmy Cliff in Seattle

Jimmy Cliff in Seattle
September 09, 2013 06:21PM
[Apologies in advance; this goes on a bit.]

I got to this show early enough to get a good spot in front. By the time the headliner came on, the floor was packed. Standing just to my right was a fairly young guy in a white t-shirt and a porkpie hat. And this guy was riotously hyped about seeing the reggae legend in person. During the songs, he danced and jumped and waved his hands above his head like a five-year-old on a sugar high. Between songs, while Jimmy was talking to the audience, this dude kept interjecting at the top of his lungs. The musicians on stage were laughing and shaking their heads, as he turned Cliff's stage patter into something of a dialogue. (The star handled it very well. I'm sure he's dealt with much worse.)

JC: "Thank you very much. That was the first single I got to record."


JC: "I love you too! Well, for a follow-up, I had three new songs to play for Leslie Kong ..."

Dude: "Three?? FUCK YEAHHH!!"

JC: "That's right! Well, Leslie Kong listened, and chose one of them for my next single."

Dude: "Which one WAS it, Jimmy?!?"

JC: "Well, it's the one I'm about to play!"

Dude: "YEAH!! Play it Jimmy!!!"

I might have found this more entertaining, if he hadn't been standing right next to me.

Things reached a breaking point during Cliff's rendition of "Wild World." Everyone was raising their hands and waving them, except me. (Sorry, but a Cat Stevens song is a Cat Stevens song is a Cat Stevens song.) The overexcited guy yelled, "How can anybody not get into this??" I didn't say (or do) anything about that ... but then the fool kinda swatted at my arm, as if trying to propel it forward, and told me, "Come on, get your hands up! Get into it!"

I lost my temper. I turned and yelled in the guy's face, "ENOUGH ALREADY!"

Not surprisingly, this guy was not happy about getting yelled at. After the song, he was saying things like, "I'm just enjoying the show, motherfucker, what's your problem?" I wanted to say something about him slapping at my arm, or just tell him to enjoy the show and leave me be, but I had the feeling it'd only fuel the fire. His friends around him were trying to settle him down.

Still, as Cliff went into "Wonderful World, Beautiful People," there was very little of that vibe around me. In fact, my neighbor had gone from bursting with enthusiasm to just standing there, obviously doing a slow burn. The crowd did the hand-waving thing again ... but this guy just stood still, with his arms at his sides. I noticed he was balling up his fists, and occasionally looking my way out the corner of his eye. (He was a couple inches taller than me, and not built lightly with it.)

Then the guy behind me leaned forward and touched me on the shoulder, and told me, "Don't worry, bro, we got your back. Fuck this asshole."

That really wasn't what I wanted to hear. Danger was imminent, and clearly, others were expecting it. I thought, You may have my back, pal, but that doesn't mean my front won't take a punch or two. So, just as the song was ending, I decided to abandon that spot, and made my way to the back of the room. Call it retreat, call it surrender, call it what you like, but I wasn't in the mood to stay there. The guy who "had my back" patted my shoulder as I left; obviously, he knew I'd had enough, and didn't blame me for leaving. (I never saw his face.)

I made it perhaps ten steps when I heard a collective gasp and murmur behind me. I turned around, and the agitated guy was standing there, looking down at the spot where I'd once stood, with a wide-eyed, shocked face ... and someone sprawled out on the floor. I didn't see it happen, but apparently he'd turned with a roundhouse punch, intended for me, and hit someone who'd stepped into the space I'd just vacated.

Before anyone could even say, "Holy shit!" two security guys were on him, pulling both arms behind his back as if they were trying to separate the wings off a slow-roasted chicken. He was squealing in pain as they shoved him out toward the lobby. (They weren't throwing him out the nearest exit, so I suspect they intended to hold him for the cops.) Meanwhile, others were gathering to help the guy who was on his back on the floor.

I decided not to return to that spot. I didn't know if his friends would be spoiling for me ... and even if they weren't, I just didn't think I'd enjoy standing there anymore. I felt sort of guilty, that some stranger had taken a punch that was intended for me ... but damned if I knew what I could do about it.

Actually, it turned out to be a lot more entertaining near the back. Standing just to my right (what a place to stand, huh) was a very hot 30-something blond woman, thoroughly enjoying the music and dancing up a storm ... while her 50-something date just stood there behind her, all stoic and grim. During one song, this smokin' little filly got really excited, practically lap-dancing that guy. And he still wouldn't so much as crack a smile. The song that got her so worked up? "You Can Get It If You Really Want." (Dude, listen to Jimmy! He's speaking to you!)

Anyway! The show was great, despite the ruckus on the floor. Cliff's five-piece band was excellent, and the man himself was in superb voice. He moved with plenty of energy on stage, too, doing some pretty high kicks and steps for a man in his 60s. As the setlist shows, he did this set as a personal history, starting with his early ska days and moving through the ensuing decades toward the Rebirth album. (I would've loved to have heard more from that disc. Two or three more songs recorded with Tim Armstrong would've beat any Cat Stevens cover. But, oh well.)

Bongo Man/By the Rivers of Babylon/I Got to Move On (medley, all on vocals and percussion)
Blackhead Chiney Man (Prince Buster cover)
Blazing Fire (Derrick Morgan cover)
Honor Your Mother and Father
Judge Not (Desmond Dekker cover)
King of Kings
Miss Jamaica
Wild World
Wonderful World, Beautiful People
World Upside Down
The Harder They Come
Many Rivers to Cross
You Can Get It If You Really Want
I Can See Clearly Now
Johnny Too Bad

Shelter of Your Love
Come Into My Life
Sitting in Limbo

Rebel in Me
All for Love
One More

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Re: Jimmy Cliff in Seattle
September 09, 2013 06:39PM
Damn! I've encountered assholes at shows, but this guy was probably on something. You did the right thing by moving - don't mess with anyone who's dusted (or whatever - does anyone even do PCP anymore?)

I have happy memories of seeing Joe Strummer playing 'The Harder They Come,' just months before he died.

And wasn't "Judge Not" by the young Robert Marley?
Re: Jimmy Cliff in Seattle
September 09, 2013 07:12PM
Jimmy was talking about Desmond Dekker and "Israelites" at the time, so I did get it wrong, yes. (I was a bit, ummm, distracted as I compiled notes on my iPhone.)

> You did the right thing by moving ...

Thank you. I only wish I'd done it a song or two sooner. Probably would've saved that poor guy from getting his evening ruined in a bad way. Next time someone irritates me to that degree, I'll be moving away from him a lot earlier. None of that "screw this guy, I was here first" attitude.

Re: Jimmy Cliff in Seattle
September 09, 2013 07:23PM
What is it about guys in porkpie hats? I'll never forget the first time we saw Link Wray. It was at the Star Community Bar in Atlanta. There was another really enthusiastic big guy in a porkpie hat getting in everyone's personal space, oblivious to his cloddishness, and finally, right in the middle of "Rumble" [!] some lady decided she had enough and laid into the guy! He was humbled by the onslaught and retreated with his friends to a less central position to occupy space in. I was thinking, it doesn't get any better than this! I'm seeing Link Wray play "Rumble" 15 feet away in a small club while a fight breaks out where the really guy had it coming.

Former TP subscriber [81, 82, 83, 84]

For further rumination on the Fresh New Sound of Yesterday®
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Re: Jimmy Cliff in Seattle
September 09, 2013 07:32PM
Wow. Incredible story, Delvin. Sorry the show had that negative subplot.

I always wonder: Do assholes at shows know they are acting like assholes at shows, and, if not, how can they not know? Is their worldview so thoroughly different than the rest of ours', that they think their behavior is actually the proper behavior, or somehow laudable? In my experience, it's almost always the baseball hat wearing frat-boys (yeah, those guys who go on to work at Goldman Sachs and ruin the entire world) but there is possibly a porkpie hat correlation also. It's a mystery.

Love the story of the hot "filly" also smiling smiley

Post Edited (09-09-13 16:34)
Re: Jimmy Cliff in Seattle
September 09, 2013 08:08PM

Is their worldview so thoroughly different than the rest of ours', that they think their behavior is actually the proper behavior, or somehow laudable?

In my experience, the question of whether their behavior is proper is not a question they ever ask themselves. The only question they ask themselves is "Do I want to do this?" and if the answer is yes, then they will do it. How their behavior affects anyone else is simply not something that would ever trouble them enough to worry about.

I loathe assholes like that. It's one of the main reasons I go to a grand total of maybe two shows a year anymore. There's always some jackass in the audience who's made it his mission in life to make sure no one else can enjoy themselves.
Re: Jimmy Cliff in Seattle
September 09, 2013 07:42PM
I have a porkpie hat, and I used to wear it to ska shows regularly. This was before I had the insight that I'm tall enough as it is, without adding a hat to my height to block someone's view. Plus there are a lot fewer ska shows to attend these days.

I think Fab got it right: This fool was hyped up on more than just Jimmy Cliff. Although I get the feeling that, had he been clean & sober, he would've been only slightly less of an asshole.

Re: Jimmy Cliff in Seattle
September 10, 2013 04:23PM

I have a porkpie hat, and I used to wear it to ska shows regularly. This was before I had the insight that I'm tall enough as it is, without adding a hat to my height to block someone's view.

So, you said "goodbye, pork pie hat?"

Sorry, couldn't resist.
Re: Jimmy Cliff in Seattle
September 09, 2013 11:20PM
Deffo did the right thing moving to the back. I usually start near the front and vacate after a couple (and grab a drink), to the vicinity of the mixing desk where the sound is better anyway. I usually start to move forward toward the end when the gaps start top appear, especially at encore time.
I certainly had to vacate at the Japandroids last week but that was mostly due to the young (polite) folk flipping out.
Re: Jimmy Cliff in Seattle
September 10, 2013 01:00AM
I always start near the front and keep my feet absolutely planted. I don't even shuffle them around or go buy a drink. But inevitably, little indie rock homunculi who cant see over a 6'6" man like me make the decision: We don't care if we invade his personal space - we need to see ! So they literally edge right in front of me with their body touching mine. I always feel like tapping the little troll of a boyfriend on his shoulder and saying "Dude! Did you notice your ass is on my dick!" but I never do. No matter how adamantly I hold my ground I ultimately end up 15 rows back. Except for Japandroids where I submit to the mosh pit! Regardless of neck arthritis.

Post Edited (09-09-13 22:01)
Re: Jimmy Cliff in Seattle
September 10, 2013 11:15AM
There was some quote from Peter Buck--perhaps in the late 1980s--that always stuck in my head. Something about how he'd love to still be able to go see Husker Du in a club, but it's impossible to do it without getting elbowed by some troll in a leather jacket. (Paraphrased, but the leather jacket was definitely a detail he included.)

I don't even bother to go near the stage on those rare occasions when I still see club shows these days. I have had too many negative experiences--and I can't have my personal space aggressively and purposely invaded without my mind going to dark places and having the whole experience soured. Also, as a reformed drinker, I don't like being around drunks. I'm all straight edge like that (and shit).
Re: Jimmy Cliff in Seattle
September 10, 2013 01:33PM
Had my wife been with me, that incident never would've happened. Whenever we go to a show, she would just as soon find a seat, even if it's in the balcony. And if she'd been on the floor with me, she would've gotten fed up with that guy and left long before the "Enough already!" phase.

In case you gents haven't figured it out by now, I married above my IQ.

Re: Jimmy Cliff in Seattle
September 10, 2013 04:53PM
Heh heh ... nope, still have it. One never knows when a Blues Brothers costume will be needed.

Re: Jimmy Cliff in Seattle
September 12, 2013 01:07PM
Stories like that is why I always bring a big plank of wood ( a la Walking Tall) to concerts.
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