Cloaca Melodia

My life in concerts, by Mike Sauter.


World Party/Jellyfish

The Ritz, New York, NY

Karl Wallinger is fascinating to watch on stage. He's a left-handed guitarist, but like Hendrix, he plays a right-hand guitar. So all of his chords are backwards. On top of that, he normally strummed with a pick but he used fingers only for solos. Each time he went into a solo, he had an eye-catching way of tossing aside his pick to the stage floor to play with his fingertips.

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I was there with my friend Tim, and he bade me goodbye to catch a train back to Jersey during the encore break. Just as he was exiting the building, World Party returned to the stage with Sinead O'Connor in tow to lend her voice to a few numbers.
And if you listen now you might hear
A new sound coming in as an old one disappears.
See the world in just one grain of sand.
You better take a closer look.
Don't let it slip right through your hand.
Won't you please hear the call.

The world says:
Put the message in the box.
Put the box into the car.
Drive the car around the world
Until you get heard.

~~World Party, "Put the Message in the Box"
The first thing one noticed when opener Jellyfish would take the stage--well, apart from the Christmas lights, colorful bric-a-brac, and little white picket fence that the band set up as stage dressing--would be that the group stood fully side-by-side while performing. Drummer/lead singer Andy Sturmer was integral to Jellyfish's rich vocal harmonies and would not be relgated to back-of-the-stage status, and he played on a minimal, stand-up drum kit at the front of the stage with the rest of his bandmates.

The sound at The Ritz was top-notch, but Sturmer's voice was not on this night. Fighting off a sore throat, he started off okay but rapidly deteriorated. By the time they got to their showpiece cover of Badfinger's "No Matter What," Sturmer was painfully struggling to hit the high notes.

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Billy Bragg/O Positive/Greg Trooper

The Ritz, New York, NY

I was at the concert with my college friend Tim. We were both big Billy Bragg fans, so we really enjoyed the show; particularly so, as this was my first time seeing him live. When he came out by himself and performed "The Milkman of Human Kindness," I was stuck by how much intensity he could deliver, just him and his electric guitar. And when he sang the refrain line -- "I am the milkman of human kindness, I will leave an extra pint!" -- he would kick a leg backwards as he ended it, as if using the motion to put extra force into his singing.

Tim was living in Jersey, so he decided to leave during the encore break. However, as soon as he began making his way towards the door, a member of the stage crew started setting up additional microphones. Since the concert had been entirely Billy solo (with occasional 2nd guitar contributed by Billy's friend Wiggy), I quickly realized that Something Was Up. I scanned the crowd of people leaving the show to see if I could spot, and perhaps stop, Tim -- but to no avail.

Sure enough, after a few more minutes, Billy came back on and introduced Natalie Merchant, Michael Stipe, and Peter Buck, who joined him for two encore songs. Very exciting!

Bragg setlist:
Milkman Of Human Kindness
Like Soldiers Do
Little Time Bomb
St. Swithin's Day
Levi Stubbs' Tears
The Marching Song Of The Covert Battalions
Tank Park Salute
World Turned Upside Down
There Is Power In A Union
The Saturday Boy
North Sea Bubble
Island Of No Return
Help Save The Youth Of America
Greetings To The New Brunette
A New England
Accident Waiting To Happen
Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards

(encore break)
Dallas (with Natalie Merchant, Michael Stipe, and Peter Buck)
Hello In There (with Natalie Merchant, Michael Stipe, and Peter Buck)


Despite the clipping, I'm fairly certain A Tribe Called Quest was not part of the show that night.

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Blues Traveler

Lonestar Roadhouse, New York, NY

I was then working in the mailroom for Blues Traveler's record label, so I got a free ticket to the show. I loved the song "But Anyway" from their then-new debut album, and I was excited to check them out live. Plus, the show (or part of it, at any rate) was going to be broadcast live on NYC's big mainstream rock station, WNEW. I had spent time in high school and during breaks in college listening to live concert broadcasts from WNEW, so I found it very cool to be a part of the in-person audience for one.

The performance was everything I had hoped it would be. Ever have that experience in a concert when the music swoops you up and takes you away momentarily and you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach like you're on a roller coaster? I'll never forget one of those moments at this show, during one of the extended jams. Everything just came together perfectly, both musically and the physical intensity of the amplified music in the room.

Now that the radio broadcast portion of the concert is up at, I haven't quite been able to identify it took place, but listening to it you still get a good aural snapshot of a good band at the height of their talents.

[first set was broadcast live on WNEW]
set 1:
Mulling It Over>But Anyway
100 Years
Gotta Get Mean>Gloria>Gotta Get Mean
Alone>Sweet Talking Hippie
Mother Funker

set 2:
Some Things I Will Not Pretend>Dropping Some NYC>Support Your Local Emperor
All Up To You>Shotgun Shell>Brother John
Crystal Flame


Here's streaming audio of the 'NEW broadcast:

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