“Every club you go into, there’s always some old guy. He ain’t really old, just a little too old to be in the club.” – Chris Rock
Finalizing my Best of 2009 music mix and thinking back over the past year, I pondered, “What was the best show I went to in 2009?” I got a chill – did I go to any shows in 2009? Have I gotten that old and lame? Then I remembered…I did see a show…Herman’s Hermits. Wait – I have gotten that old and lame! The most memorable concert of the year was by a band whose heyday was in the ’60s playing a free show that we took the kids to see while sitting in camping chairs in a park in Hamden, CT? The funny thing is that, even after recalling that I had seen a couple of other shows, it was.
Peter Noone is a cheeky, winning performer. Judging by the countless YouTube clips I’ve watched with my daughter since the show, his stage banter is well rehearsed, but it’s fantastically self-deprecating. He customized his schtick for the venue, cracking sarcastically about what a rare thrill it was to play in Hamden and stay at the local Clarion Inn. He tossed out tons of free swag. You could tell that he genuinely appreciated still being in the business of entertaining people. And then there’s the songs.
I’m Into Something Good, Wonderful World, Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter, End of the World, Listen People (my personal favorite), Dandy (penned by The Kinks’ Ray Davies), the indomitable I’m Henry VIII, and the show stopper There’s a Kind of Hush.
While I was young by comparison at Herman’s Hermits, I was definitely the old guy in the club at the other notable show I went to in 2009, Yale’s Spring Fling. The Decemberists and N.E.R.D. headlined. I’m normally a fan of The Decemberists. They made things interesting by leading a Simon Says round of getting the crowd to lay down on the ground before wrapping up the show with a musical chairs jam session where the band switched instruments. But, I think they were annoyed about going on later than expected and Colin Meloy conducted the whole thing with an undercurrent of attitude.
When the sun went down, it turned out that N.E.R.D. didn’t play a show – they threw a party. Pharrell is a consummate showman, bouncing all over the stage, pulling the dweebiest kids in the crowd on stage to dance with him. At one point he said to the audience, “Yale! On a scale from 1-10, where do you think you are right now? Are you at 8? (crowd cheers) Or, are you at 10? (crowd roars) Well, I was just talking to Shay on the side of the stage and I told him, let’s show them what 20 looks like! (can’t hear the crowd because the two drum kits have already kicked in and the party’s back on).” It’s a testament to Pharrell’s magnitude of cool that he can pull that line off without tripping the cheese detector. Do you think Pharrell will still be charming the adoring throngs when he’s 61 the way Peter Noone still does for the Noonatics?