Friday, July 27, 2007

Concert Review: The Nightwatchman (Tom Morello) at the Crocodile Café

Last week I was in Seattle for a business meeting and thanks to a coupon I had with US Air Mrs. Hops was able to accompany me. We decided that since we were in such an awesome music town that we were going to check out a show at the Crocodile Café on Wednesday night, no matter who was playing, because the club is so rich in music history. Back in the ‘90’s the Crocodile Cafe was the place where all those grunge bands that eventually became quite famous got their start. Well, after deciding to go there we hit a major stoke of luck and saw that The Nightwatchman (aka Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine) was playing! We had missed out on his show around the corner from our house at Jammin’ Java so this was a perfect shot at redemption.

I had picked up his solo album which features Morello playing acoustic guitar and singing – two things fans of his from Rage and Audioslave certainly aren’t used to. His album has grown on me, but to be honest I am not sure I would have been into it had it not been Tom Morello and if I had not been going to the show. Morello’s voice is actual nice and of course he is one of the greatest guitar player’s on the planet (even if it’s not really featured on this album). However, where the album falls a bit flat is when he is trying to belt out a line that you know he wants to have power behind. Unfortunately, his voice isn’t up to the level of the great singer / songwriters and they don’t always have the impact I think he’s looking for. But you always get his point, and the album is still enjoyable.

Now where the album had its flaws, these were definitely not there when he played live. All those lines that fell a bit flat in the studio came alive when played at The Croc. His energy was a bit more contained than it would be in Rage, but that doesn’t mean he was lacking energy and passion. During the show and after I was seriously fired up and ready to take the streets, exactly what his music is supposed to make you do. And we weren’t the only ones. The crowd went crazy the entire night. One of my favorite moments was during “union song” where it seemed like half the crowd were Union members and rose their fists in the air when they sang along. Fantastic. That certainly isn’t happening at a show in DC. Other highlights were a great cover of “This Land is Your Land” with a very Springsteen-esque introduction as well as “House Gone Up In Flames”. But there wasn’t one song that was lacking energy and purpose live. It was an outstanding show and exceeded my expectations on every level. If he comes to your town please check him out.

After the show I walked back to the bar (got to love how they keep the bar open AFTER the show) where opener Ike Reilly was playing and singing in the corner. I have to mention that he was a really great opening act. A nice mix of humor and passion, not to mention he has a fantastic voice. I plan on checking out more of his stuff he has released with his band soon. Anyway, after hearing Ike rocking in the lounge, Mrs. Hops was lucky enough to get to meet Mr. Tom Morello himself and have him sign her newly purchased Nightwatchman t-shirt. Unfortunately, she was too nervous (Tom Morello IS a legend, and I don’t use that term lightly) to say much of significance. She just blurted something out about Jammin’ Java after which Morello let her know it was a great show and he dug the place. Nice to know. What she meant to say was that we enjoyed his interview on the Henry Rollins show the week before (with Serj Tankian of System of a Down) where he talks about how Rage Against the Machine was “pissed” about the Clinton administration so they had to reunite in light of what is going on now with the Bush administration. Check it out:

After Mrs. Hops was done blushing we went back to the back lounge where we finished our last beers and somehow avoided getting kicked out for a good 20 minutes after they told everyone to leave. Sitting one table over was none other than Morello and Ike Reilly chatting away with some of the bar staff, very very cool. Ah but alas someone finally figured out we didn’t belong and asked us to leave.

What a night – not bad for a business trip!

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