Edinburgh Playhouse July 28 2008
This was the first time that I had seen Tom Waits. To be honest I don’t really know a lot of his stuff but I had read so much about him being the ultimate performer that I felt I had to go along and see what all the excitement was about. So Laura and I took the train to Edinburgh to see Tom in concert at the lovely Edinburgh Playhouse. We had managed to score great seats in the middle of the second row of the stalls, so we were really looking forward to this one. We turned up early at the venue armed with our passports to prove our names matched those printed on our tickets (Tom had put special measures in place for these shows to combat touts).
Tom came on stage late at around 8.40 (advertised time was 8pm) to a great roar from the crowd, who were clearly all really up for it. I’ve heard some of his material before, but I was pretty suprised at just how deep and gutteral his voice is. He’s standing on top of a small podium surrounded by an assortment of stange items and he is dressed in a scruffy old suit with a bowler hat and work boots on. Each time he stamps his foot a cloud of dust rises from the podium.
I begin to realise that we are witnessing something quite unique; quite different to anything I have ever seen before. Some of this reminds me of seeing Beefheart perform Trout Mask Replica stuff in the early 70s, and that was some show too. His voice sounds similar to Beefheart and Edgar Broughton, but rougher. The songs have hints of old vaudeville, russian music, german nightclubs, scenes from Cabaret; its all here in parts, but it is much much more than that.
Half way through the set Tom sits at the piano and sings a few songs. This is the Tom Waits that I recall from seeing on TV in the 70s (probably on the Old Grey Whistle Test). Then its back onto the podium for the rest of the show.
When he leaves the stage the crowd go crazy until he returns for a few encores. Then at the end when he leaves the stage for the final time, the crowd cheer and clap until the house lights go up, and then some more. Laura and I both realise that we have just witnessed something quite special. I am not sure if it is one of the best shows that I have ever seen, but it sure was pretty different! Off we go to our Travelodge room for the night, before we return home on the train the next morning. (Also run into an old colleague in the foyer of the Travelodge the next morning; its a small world).
Tom Waits site: http://www.tomwaits.com/
Lucinda/Ain’t Goin’ Down To The Well 5:25; Rain Dogs; Falling Down; On The Other Side Of The World; I’ll Shoot The Moon; God’s Away On Business; The Part You Throw Away; Eyeball Kid; Singapore; Tom Traubert’s Blues; The Briar And The Rose; Take It With Me; Innocent When You Dream; Lie To Me; Hoist That Rag; Bottom Of The World; Cold Cold Ground; Green Grass; Way Down In The Hole; Dirt In The Ground; Metropolitan Glide; Make It Rain; Jesus Gonna Be Here; 9th & Hennepin; Anywhere I Lay My Head