Thursday, March 30th began on a very very good note…literally. We had gone to a Richard Ashcroft concert at Webster Hall the night before and, unlike the previous time we saw him (at Bowery Ballroom), the man was on fire.
Not that he wasn't excellent at the Bowery. Quite frankly, I couldn't understand why the audience seemed so impatient with his performance, even if it was entirely acoustic. Being the ancient bat that I am, I've seen most of the greats in Rock and the best of the lot could slay you with the least. No less a sonic force than Led Zeppelin were at their most stunning when it was just Page & Plant strumming and singing during a mini mid-concert set. Nevertheless, Ashcroft's audience was having none of his moody introspective self-indulgence. By all appearances, however, he really didn’t seem to give a shit.
The concert on the night of March 29th was a full 180 in terms of both sound and attitude. As soon as we saw all the equipment being hauled onto the stage, we knew (duh!) something was up. In this case, it was not only the decibel levels, but also Ashcroft's mood. Whereas before he just went from song to song without even acknowledging the increasingly disgruntled audience, this time he was a regular Chatty Cathy. When he wasn't gushing over the audience, thanking them for being there, thanking them for sticking with him and running back and forth shaking hands, he was going on about how great his wife (or about-to-be wife…he identified her as both) was and how she had got him through the past years, how much he loved New York, how pissed he was at the security in Customs because it caused his child to be searched and taken from the child's mother and, finally, how loopy anti-depressants were and how he felt better being off them…even though he really needed them…
In other words…
This time, we caught Ashcroft during a manic phase. Hope you do too, because it was one hell of a show. The sound of the guitars, drums, synth and a wailing sax, complete with hippy-dippy light show (which complimented the barefoot Ashcroft embracing his inner-Stevie Nicks) came together as the best evening of music I've enjoyed since the first Queens of the Stone Age concert we caught last summer in Connecticut. And it was just as lengthy. Whereas the Queens went on so long, we missed our ride back to Manhattan, Ashcroft kept crooning until Wednesday turned into Thursday. I’m not complaining; it was well worth every lost minute of sleep.
Needless to say, by the time Thursday night rolled around, I was…oh, let's continue with the Brit theme…knackered. I tried to revive with a quick bath after work because we had a heavy itinerary ahead of us, but I was one burned-out puppy.
First stop was the official launch of Ben Sherman Soho. This was going to be Sherman's first flagship store in the U.S. and we were very happy about its arrival. Both my husband and myself live in Sherman's jeans (they are SO comfortable). In fact, his pants, in general, totally rock. They fit so well and are as comfortable as pajamas. We also love his sweaters, jackets and, of course, the iconic shirts (remember The Beatles…as styled by their Gay manager?). Oh, and my husband loves their shoes. Have I left anything out? Do they make pillows?
The opening promised a performance by the Raveonettes and Danny Masterson from "That 70's Show" spinning under the name DJ Donkey Pizzle. Note to Danny: The name sucks.
What we were interested in, however, were the clothes (obviously) and what the space would look like. According to the press release, "(t)he 5300 square foot shop will have the interior of the mods in the mansion theme." The closest I could think of that would approximate such an ambiance would be the interiors shown in the new movie "Stoned", allegedly about the last days of Brian Jones. In the film, poor addled Brian spends most of his time stumbling around the former home of Winnie the Pooh author AA Milne. There is nothing about the Ben Sherman store that in any way looked like this. But, maybe I'm thinking more Biba than "Blowup"? The Sherman shop was very white and hard-surfaced and brightly lit…kind of Milk Bar, without the irony.
The party was BRILLIANT. Naturally, the liquor was plentiful. I nursed a Bass while others were kept (very) happy with Red Bull and vodkas. The food kept coming and, boy was it good…despite being English-inspired and all that that association entails. I especially loved the mini-cheeseburgers with pickle and the mini pies, both Shepherd's and Cornish. Let's just say, it wasn't a day to diet.
Speaking of which…
Perez Hilton was there. I first had a bit of a giggle (ok, I'll stop with the tired across-the-pond gibberish) when I saw him swanning about (well, maybe not quite YET), trailed by someone schlepping (not a Brit term) a video camera recording everything Perez did. I dragged Jimi Celeste over to take a photo of Hilton (Jimi had no idea who he was), while the camera guy took a movie of Jimi photographing Hilton. It was all so ridiculously wonderful. It's such a cliché that those who most mock fame are the most easily seduced by it, isn't it? One has only to see what happened to the old "Spy" magazine guys to prove that cliché true. I could just imagine Perez taking the piss (I can’t stop!) out of someone who made such a spectacle of themselves at a friggin’ STORE OPENING. What’s next: Hulking bodyguards?
Actually, I couldn't take my eyes off of Perez…not that it would have been easy to. I'm a big fan of his column…even though he "appropriated" a photo taken by Stefanie Keenan, our wonderful LA photographer, an action that has caused her so much grief. I know that he writes that people can ask for their recordings and videos to be removed from his site, but Stefanie believes that if someone uses her work, they should get permission from her for the image she captured. This particularly applies if the image is to be used in a way in which it was not originally intended, especially if that usage is for negative reasons. In this case, the photo was used to make fun of the way a celebrity was dressed.
Which was interesting, considering the response from his readers to his column about that night. It was hilarious that his fans took him apart because of all the make-up he was wearing. Actually, I quite like blokes in eyeliner. The outfit was another matter. In another size, it would have worked; a (much) LARGER size. Gosh…if I only had that ability to write and draw arrows like he does when he points out sartorial flaws of the celebrated…
Also in attendance was Eric Balfour, that guy from the new "Law & Order" spin-off, "Conviction". I've been having a bit of a problem with his hair on that show, though the show isn't bad at all. And he and I share a birthday, so I'll have to love him. Luckily, I don’t share a birthday with Hitler.
What I really loved at the Sherman store were the suits for men. They were simple, spiffy and modestly priced. The baby blue one would look amazing on my hubby. The white one wouldn't look too shabby either. I didn't have a chance to really see the women's stuff, but I'm sure we'll be back there again soon. John McDonald, my boss over at "City" magazine, was swooning over the shirts. He was going on and on about the features he loved, but the combination of the Bass and lack of sleep were working their magic on me, so I don’t remember anything he said. Despite my lack of consciousness and recall, if McDonald (the brains behind "City", Lever House, Merc Bar and other examples of the truly fabulous) gets excited over something, you couldn’t ask for a better review.
Unfortunately, we had to leave before the Raveonettes performed. Luckily, we've seen them before. And, yes, they are swell.
We had to get back over to Webster Hall because we were going to see the Editors. Considering the Ashcroft show the previous night/morning, we weren't so certain that our luck could continue. It did. Considering that this was a band with only one album, as opposed to Ashcroft's many, it didn't give them much in the way of a catalogue to choose from. Nevertheless, they were mesmerizing. The sound that this quartet from Birmingham, UK delivered was fat and focused. They were very Joy Division, if Joy Division’s lead singer had been John Cale acting like David Byrne at his most palsied…or like Cale himself, especially when Editor’s lead singer, Tom Smith (catchy name), sits at a keyboard. They are not an attractive band, by any means, but, lordy, can they play.
The audience was great to watch watching them. Everyone standing on the floor seemed to know every word of every song. They all sang along, usually not even looking at the band, who were rarely looking at them. Instead, everyone seemed to be lost in his or her own personal spastic fantasyland. The audience’s fists were clenched and pumping the air above their heads while various members slammed into each other at odd intervals. The songs are memorable enough to recognize, even if you've only been exposed to them occasionally. If they come to your town, do not miss them. Until they do, you wouldn't be wasting your wages if you picked up their music.
The show was over by 11 PM because the venue had to give its space over to club goers. I opted out of going to the after party because I was ready to DIE. The funniest report I got from someone who did attend was that they were kept waiting outside…with the band! It seems that security was so clueless, they didn't even know who the guests of honor were. "Can you believe that, not only didn't they recognize the Editors, when the guys in the band identified themselves, they had to show their passports in order to gain admission?" My spy asked.
And Ashcroft bitched because Customs patted down his 2 year old?
Ain't post-9/11 New York swell?