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Now this applies equally to you and I

the only thing that we share is the same sky.

These empty metaphors are all in vain,

like, ‘can’t you see the grass is greener where it rains?’

-Eve, the Apple of My Eye

Laura, Angela and I went to King Tut’s last night to see Bell X1.  I can’t remember for the life of me when I first heard them, but I know it was circa 2004/2005.  Their earlier incarnation as Juniper included a young Damien Rice before his solo years. 

DSC00290

The first album of theirs that I owned was Music in Mouth released in 2003, but their next album, Flock, is apparently “highly acclaimed”.  Even though I own it I must admit that I haven’t given it the credit I should.  Which is because I am busy listening to songs off Music in Mouth

Their latest album, titled Blue Lights on the Runway has come out to much anticipation and I am eager to get my hands on a copy – the songs they played off it last night promise an intriguing break from what I would consider their “norm” and I am happily looking forward to falling in love with them as heartily as those from Music and Flock.

All this serves to tell me

is maybe there’s no ladders in this game at all.

All this serves to tell me

is maybe only snakes like the one in the garden that has to crawl…

-Snakes & Snakes

Seeing them play live is something else!  Laura, Angela and I went to see them a few years ago when they played the Garage in Glasgow, and when we arrived they were already playing our favorite song,  Eve, the Apple of My Eye, and we were very excited.  Except that by some twist of fate and stage times, it was actually already the encore and we had missed the entire show.  I am happy to report that we arrived at King Tut’s not only on time – but early enough to hear one or two songs by the opening band as well!!! Way to go us!!

I should have know by the arc of the empty wine glass

I should have know ‘cos you step on don’t walk over cracks

Looking over my shoulder to see you looking back over yours

But you were paying the ferryman even after Chris said ‘don’t’

– Alphabet Soup

Anyway, the point of my post is that they were amazing and we had a great time.  The lead singer, Paul Noonan, was spot-on.  The rest of the musicians were ace and the entire gig was amazing.  They played a lot of new stuff, which, as I said above, sounded promising and they played a big handful of old favorites so they really covered everything.

setlist

If you get a chance, check them out.  If you’re looking for song suggestions get in touch with me because I can recommend some excellent tunes.

My next piece on Bell X1 will be dealing with their strong inclination towards religious allegory.

What’s with the angel and what’s with the devil?

They keep swapping shoulders and I can’t tell which from which.

‘Will you be my Kriskindle? Will you be my better nature?’

Said one to the other, but I think they’re only showing off.

-I’ll See Your Heart And I’ll Raise You Mine

xo

A

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an open letter…

Dear Rob, Paul, Adam, Kyle and Brian,

I’ve written about a million versions of this letter in my head because it is very important that I get this right.  Because this is where it all started – The Beginning.

April 7th, 1997 at The Odeon – opening for Jackopierce.  And 51 days later, at The Grog Shop. For $2.  And again in August, October and then March of the following year.  And then August 1998 at Blossom for $30.  Meteoric rise?  Understatement.

Matchbox Twenty – the first band I loved

And imagine how different it all could have been.  If the music wasn’t just so or if the lyrics hadn’t seemingly been written specifically for me. If Paul wasn’t so damned adorable playing those drums with his bare feet.  If Adam hadn’t been so unbelievably nice to me. If Kyle wasn’t so good looking, Brian so quiet or if Rob didn’t have that certain something that oozed of stardom…

I was 16 and phenomenally uncool.  I listened to your album, Yourself or Someone Like You, every day for over a year.  I had a cassette taped copy of You & I & I recorded at radio station 99x and I’m pretty sure it was my most prized possession. I quoted you in my yearbook.  My best friend Betsey and I named our Uniracers bikes after you guys on our SNES.   A startling confession to make but it is the truth. Like I said, phenomenally uncool. 

Me & Adam, 1997

Me & Adam, 1997

“Well everyone here hides shades of shame
yeah but lookin’ inside we’re the same.
We’re the same and we’re all grown now,
yeah, but we don’t know how to get it back to good.”
– Matchbox Twenty , Back 2 Good

 It all has to do with that very first show in 1997.  We were front row at The Odeon – my Mom had driven us down to The Flats for the show and, I think, waited outside in the car the entire time.  I am certain I stared adoringly at you all as you played and sang the songs; I must have, anyway, because Adam came to the edge of the stage and handed me his guitar pick.  Me!  Little phenomenally uncool me in the front row.  Amazing.  I don’t think I stopped talking about it for months.  (Years?)

And I was hooked on live music and the thrill of getting some silly acknowledgement from a the band that your love of their music and their art was appreciated. A drumstick here, a guitar pick there.  A photo with the band after the gig (in the freezing cold, usually, at 1am).  As I grew older and got my own transportation it was the recognition I craved.  For one of them, any of them, to remember my name.

Allison, hello!  Good to see you again. Isn’t Chicago a little far from Cleveland?

“While you were sleeping I was listening to the radio wondering what you’re dreaming  when it came to mind that I didn’t care.  And I thought, hell, if it’s over then I had better end it quick or I could lose my neve. Are you listening? Can you hear me?”
– Matchbox Twenty, Rest Stop

 But I couldn’t keep up with you guys.  Before I blinked, it seemed, you were selling out shows at ticket prices I couldn’t really afford.  Even those who were there at the relative beginning for shows at The Grog Shop got lost amidst the massive crowd being reeled in by chart-topping hits (one after the other). 

I never forgot you, though, or that first guitar pick I ever received from a band at a live gig  which I still have in a safe place.  Or the way it felt to get your autographs and see you smile at me!

It is because of you guys, and the fire you lit inside me, that I have followed live music so obsessively over the past 11 years.  I’m not as avid as those who make a living by it, but I have been to 275 concerts and some of my closest friends are people in the industry.

“Some things in this world they don’t make sense.
Somethings you don’t need until they leave you,
They’re the things that you miss.
Oh, baby, baby, baby when all your love is gone
Who will save me from all I’m up against out in this world?
And maybe, maybe, maybe
You’ll find something that’s enough to keep you
But if the bright lights don’t receive you,
You can turn yourself around and come on home.
-Matchbox Twenty, Bright lights

You and your music inspired my love of music and it was partially my love of music that led me to study abroad.  Which led me to a band who, when next touring America, led me to another band who eventually led me here to Scotland where I wouldn’t be if it weren’t, in a roundabout way, for you guys and your  music.  Convoluted, I know, but the idea is there.

So.  Thank you.  For lighting the fire.  For making such good music that I still listen to rather more often than I’d like to admit.  For putting out a Live DVD so I don’t have to cry when you come and play my city and I can’t make it to the gig.  For continuing to strive towards that goal.

Without you five and your music none of this would have happened.  And I really sincerely mean that.


Matchbox Twenty, How Far We’ve Come – Live from Abbey Road Studios

“I’m waking up at the start of the end of the world
But it’s feeling just like every other morning before
Now I wonder what my life is going to mean if it’s gone.”
-Matchbox Twenty, How Far We’ve Come

So, thanks guys.  I grew up listening to you.  How far we’ve come, indeed.

Keep up the good work. 

Come and play Glasgow.  Somewhere small (my house?).  And please don’t charge me £30 for the ticket. Remember, I was there at the beginning.

xoA

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