Friday, May 04, 2012

Lisa Germano live at Ozen Bar

I may have been in denial that I was finally going to see Lisa Germano play live, and it probably didn't help that I forced myself not to listen to any of her music in the weeks leading up to the show.  In that respect it wasn't any different from to the lead-up to any other concert -- I often make a point of not listening to anything by that artist because I don't want to "burn out" on their stuff and lessen the impact of hearing the songs live.  It's not a hard and fast rule, and most of the time I know it's a stupid rule.  By the night of the show this past Wednesday in the intimate third floor of the Ozen Bar, I hadn't listened to a Lisa Germano song in ages.

Then again, I spent most of 2006-7 listening to Lisa Germano, including a few solo live shows from tours for "Liquid Pig" and "In the Maybe World".  Her music has been imprinted in my brain so strongly that I can often vividly recall how it feels to hear her music without needing to physically play it.  I felt I knew exactly what I was in for.  And by exactly, I mean *exactly*.  I can't recall seeing a concert where the experience of being there so precisely matched my expectations of what it would be like.  It was Lisa Germano playing solo on stage with borrowed instruments, alternating between piano and guitar, in a darkened room in front of an attentive seating audience hanging on her every word, acting humble, explaining what some of the songs meant to her, forgetting words to some of the songs like she occasionally does at her shows (blamed this time on jet lag) because she's human and that's why we love her and relate to her, etc.

The only surprise would be what she would play.  Germano's sets don't really have a beginning, middle, or end.  Any song could conceivably open, she can segue virtually anything into anything, and anything could be an effective closer.  What's more, this two-night residency at Ozen Bar were her first concerts in over a year, so without a new album to promote and next album "No Elephants" still in preparation, she was free to play literally anything.  "Lullaby For Liquid Pig" still forms the backbone of her set, both in terms of the songs played and the style and substance of that album.  But there were a number of unexpected treats -- digging deep into the archives for a guitar version of "Cowboy" from 1993's "Happiness", two songs she wrote and performed for OP8 ("It's a Rainbow", "If I Think of Love") and rare live airings of "Tomorrowing" (from "Slide") and "A Beautiful Schizophrenic" (from "Excerpts From a Love Circus").  The end came with a simple, perfect encore of "Golden Cities" after a seventy minute concert that just flew by, which made me rethink how good that song and the entire "In the Maybe World" album was and whether I've been underrating it these past few years*.

The sad fact is that I don't see a lot of live shows these days, even though I still listen to music constantly. So I've gotten used to making connections to artists through their records and being satisfied with it, as if it's perfectly OK that they exist in shiny disc or digital form and not as real, music playing people who you can pay to see.  But Lisa Germano is more important than most.  I needed to see her.

*complaining about set lists is lame, and I always promise to never do it, but: nothing from "Magic Neighbour"?  Really?  I would have yelled out requests for "Snow" or "Cocoon" if I'd been listening to her music in the weeks beforehand and could remember the titles :(  

1 comment:

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