I just got back from the Sarah Fimm concert at the Roseland in Portland. Sarah was opening for Peter Murphy, but I just went to see her and did not stay for the main act. Partly this is because I have to work on Monday and did not want to stay out late, and partly because I'm just not that familiar with Peter Murphy's music. The crowd was pretty Goth, so I think I was the only person there wearing a Hawaiian shirt.
Sarah and her band were great. With today's technology, sounding good on a studio recording is not all that tough. You can do a lot of takes until you get it right, you can correct pitch digitally, and there are many other tricks. But it is still challenging to sound good live, and a small club setting like the Roseland is not very forgiving. I'd say a good 50% of the bands I've heard in places like this sounded out of tune, sloppy, and basically horrible. But Sarah sounded amazing on every song. She really has a gorgeous voice and perfect phrasing.
The band was very good, too. They are obviously a disciplined group who have no "rock star attitude" but have a lot of skill. Tonight I started to appreciate how the rather sparse arrangements help everything to sound clear and crisp in a live performance.
When I drove downtown for the concert, I started to go to the parking garage where I normally park, but then I saw a police car headed directly towards me, going the wrong way on a one way street. I stopped. The police car turned into the parking garage, then two cops got out, drew their guns, and yelled at someone to get down on the ground. I couldn't really see exactly what was going on, but I went to a different parking garage a block away instead. It was a strange start to the evening.
Another odd thing: my girlfriend told me on the way home that she is pretty sure Peter Murphy was sitting right in front of us in the balcony during Sarah Fimm's show. Now I don't have a very good mental picture of what Peter Murphy looks like, so I don't know, but she says she is about 90% sure. If so, I feel kind of bad now, because I kept talking about how I was only there to see Sarah Fimm and didn't want to stay for Peter's show. I didn't mean to be impolite or anything.
My girlfriend used to sing with Oregon Repertory Singers and is a perfectionist about vocalists. But she kept leaning over to me and saying, "Wow, she is so good. She has a great voice. Do you have the CD of this?" "Yes, I have all of them."
Well, it was a fun evening, and I hope Sarah will come back to Portland again.