Sunday, September 23, 2018

Arcade Fire 
The Zombies 
at The Greek Theatre  
September 20, 2018

Reviewed by Anthony Servante

The Zombies

Arcade Fire

I've often spoken with you readers about the trials and tribulations of getting to and from concerts without a motor vehicle or public transportation and my reliance on rides from family and friends. Often, as well, the person who gives me a ride will usually ask: Who's the band? Much akin to asking What are you serving when invited to dinner. In this case, I told them the band was THE ZOMBIES. He accepted my invitation. I asked him when was the last time he's been to a concert and he answered, "Pink Floyd--in 1969." Needless to say, my driver and friend was giddy as hell to be invited to see a band from his era of music. I didn't mention that ARCADE FIRE was the headliner. I know that he didn't know who they were. And it didn't matter. He was going to see The Zombies. And now with a ride, so was I. 

We made good time. He knew every shortcut and he turned an hour trip into twenty-five minutes of back-roads and side streets. I got the tickets and "After Concert Party" passes, we parked the car, and we grabbed a pretzel and Diet Coke before finding our seats. We landed 12 seats back from center stage, right between the speaker system, with a perfect view of the light show. After a thirty minute wait, the lights dimmed twice, warning the attendees to find their seats. Then The Zombies took to the stage.

The Zombies 
Colin Blunstone still sings for the band, and has since the 1960s; Rod Argent still plays keyboards and sings as well. Tom Toomey plays guitar and sings backing vocals. Soren Koch has bass duties, and Steve Rodford is in charge of percussion. The last time I saw the band, other original members joined this line-up to play the group's "Odessey and Oracle" (1968) in its entirety. For the Greek Theatre show, Argent and gang played four songs from the 1968 LP and cherry picked a selection of hits from The Zombies years. Nope, no Argent music ("Hold Your Head Up") was played this time out for this truncated version of the O & O show that I saw in Beverly Hills. 

What worked best this time out that was missing from the longer concert last time (nearly two hours in BH versus 45 minutes at the Greek) was the improvisational versions of the hits. Argent traded jam lines with Tom Toomey's guitar licks, and Koch and Rodford exchanged bass and drum beats during longer versions of songs like "Time of the Season" and "She's Not There" and "Tell Her No". These jams maximized the limited time the band had by sticking to the hit songs and adding that extra bit of jazzy improv. The crowd responded enthusiastically while the Arcade Fire seemed a bit surprised to hear such "old songs" played so lively. 

If you haven't seen this line-up of the band, I recommend that you see them soon as they are still currently touring. I didn't mention this up front, but let me just point out that this was the most eclectic pairing of opening band and headliner since Jimi Hendrix opened for The Monkees. I mean, hit songs from the 1960s leading up to Indie hits from 2004-2018. It was a unique pairing, a one of a kind concert, and I guarantee you will never see the likes of such a classic line-up again. But that doesn't mean you should give up. Arcade Fire is inviting some interesting opening acts on the California leg of their tour. Take advantage and take in a show before it ends. 

I love this band. Little did I realize that history was going to be made this night. There was no point in sitting down in the great seats. The whole theatre crowd was on its feet as soon as the lights dimmed and the opening notes of Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) started the show. The roar of the audience was massive. This was the opening song from the band's debut LP "Funeral", which is rarely played. Then the second song began: Neighborhood #2 (Laika). The first two songs from the first album played back to back. Could this be happening? Yes. It was. Arcade Fire played the entire Funeral LP exactly in the order of songs that it was recorded. In a decision that was made just minutes before the show began, the band decided to play their first record from beginning to end. After all, they've never played it all before. And, besides, it was 14 years ago that the LP was released. 

And boy did they play the shit out of those songs. The audience was like the tenth member of the band, singing along to the harmonies and chorus lines. Every Oooo-ooo-oo, Ahhh-ahh-ah, matched the band's vocals and back-up vocals. The Greek crowd was the third harmonic for the band that night. We were part of that historic moment as Arcade Fire played the classic cuts from their first music hits, the hits that brought this crowd to this show tonight, to sell out the Greek Theatre. (I was offered hundreds of dollars for my tickets as I walked to the entrance). Poor fools who sold their tickets and missed this historic moment is music legend. 

After the last song from the LP was played ("In the Backseat"), the band took a five minute break, then returned to play a "best of" Arcade Fire hits from 2004-2018. Every song had an choreographed light show that combined confetti, fake snow, band members appearing in the audience, three screens showing animation to accompany the lyrics, and color lighting to set the mood on certain songs. It was a feast for the ears and eyes, and as you fans know, that combination of sound and lyrics is a feast for the mind as well. It was an epic musical show that could only be enjoyed standing. The seats were an encumbrance. 

For my driver, he said he loved The Zombies and the first half of Arcade Fire. He's got good taste, obviously. The newer music by AF takes multiple listenings to truly appreciate. I'll lend my friend my AF CDs, and maybe we'll see them again next time they're in town. But we'll also keep our eyes open for The Zombies shows locally. However, we can forget ever seeing this pairing of bands ever again (Never say never, says the optimist). But we saw them tonight. We saw The Zombies jam on their hits, and we saw Arcade Fire play an LP they've never played in its entirety before. There may be more historic moments in Rock and Roll (tonight being one of them) in the future, but there will NEVER be another concert like September 20, 2018 at The Greek Theatre. 

And we were there....  

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Update 8D

Trauma & Therapy

Paint Therapy:
Drawing Out Demons

A Pandemonium of Parrots 
Anthony Servante's Photo Rendering 

Just wanted to wrap up Update 8C Case Studies, as one new one arrived, and the artwork that I was waiting on also reached me. So, before we get to Update 9A, let's introduce the missing segments from Update 8C with Update 8D.

To summarize: These case studies were participants in "paint therapy". The new case study addresses a facet that I overlooked in the paint therapy overview.

Let's begin.

Case Study #4
Hi Anthony
I’m really loving the new trauma series. That sounds bizarre I know. I work with adults who have severe autism, some with other complex mental and physical problems and some are nonverbal or have limited vocabulary. The change in some of their artwork over the last year is stunning. We’ve found there was a malicious “care provider “. Before the provider in question was hired, the paint therapy was productive. The children drew trees, birds, blue skies, white clouds, all the traditional viewings found in the backyard of the clinic where the children sit and draw what they see. Since the arrival of this malicious person on staff, the art the patients produce is entirely different in its colour and some were so dark before they were quite frightening. Here's a sample that a parent allowed me to share. She told me that the child was having nightmares and that the birds in the backyard had begun to resemble the nightmare creatures. Based on the drawing, the therapist explained that the creature was half dream beast and half emotional outlet. Either way, it is quite nightmarish, for lack of a better word. I hope you use it in your next article on trauma. If you don't feel it relates to the topic of trauma, that's fine. Thank you for you attention in either case.
Counselor Diane Newland.

William Cook re-drew this drawing
to avoid any copyright infringement. 

My response:
That's frightening to think that such a problem could exist in-house and such an employee could go undetected save for these drawings. Could I share this story? I won't use any names, but it's a facet of trauma that I haven't covered--the abusive therapist. I will have an artist friend of mine re-draw the patient's drawing in order to avoid any future copyright infringement. The drawing will contain the elements and themes of the original without the child-like simplicity of the original.

Hi Anthony
Feel free to re-draw the original drawing. That’s fine. Regarding the abusive care-giver: The abuse was noticed by a doctor and us as teaching team and families who started to hear a happy person change, grow introspective, and paint lots of scary dark images. In just under a year we’ve reversed it. The carer who looked after them doesn’t care anymore for them. Unfortunately there was no evidence on camera just a few of us observing weird things that weren’t enough for a case. But the artwork has lost its darkness as those involved have relaxed and got happier. Please do use it without names.

My Response:
Thank you. Very relevant to my subject matter. Much appreciation for the work you do. Let's keep in touch about your therapy, as that's what I'll be covering now.

Case Study #5 Norie Email

Email from Norie H

My name is Norie. You don't remember me, but I remember you. You're not the only one with trauma. There are more. Old ones. New ones. I wasn't the first. You aren't the latest. We haven't met the last yet. The Plvmage Punks are getting restless. That's another therapy. My therapist told me about it. Make clothes to wear. I make costumes. Bird costumes like in these pictures. This is my poem. You never got to read it. It was for you. Suzie says hello. Bridget is still in a coma. Not a real coma. She just doesn't talk. She's home-schooled now. Watches videos on history and biology and plants and animals and birds and weather patterns. Climate change. It has to do with the hot weather. If you understand the poem, let me know. The therapists won't understand. You need to remember. Or no one is going to get well.

To evade the terrors in dreams, one must have the right weapons. You can't fight these monsters awake. It's like the Tokidoki Kids have their Cactus suits, we need a suit to confront the evil. But evil is the wrong word. It's more like we need the weapons to fight our bad selves. That's all bad dreams are, our bad selves waking up in dreams while we sleep. They sleep while we're awake. How can you fight what appears only in dream? With the dreams of your waking self. And my dream is the Plvmage Punks. We made pajamas for keeping away our bad selves.

And remember, a bunch of parrots is called a pandemonium. A pandemonium of parrots. Notice that "pan" + demon = pandemonium (lots of demons). We have them here in Santa Monica, too. You're not the only one in San Gabriel Mountains who see them. They're everywhere. You know, "pan" also means everywhere. But this is about "paint therapy" and nightmares, right? Right. I contacted your Facebook friend, Jerry Langdon, and hired him to draw my nightmare demon. He came up with two versions. My mom sends her permission for you to use them on your blog. She loves your blog. It's new to me, if you'll remember. Our trauma is not over. Not till we face our demons. Here's mine.

Jerry Langdon Rendering of Dream Creature
(without clothes)

Jerry Langdon Variation on Dream Creature 
(2nd description, with clothes)

My Response:
Sorry, Norie, I don't remember you. But these drawings look very familiar. Perhaps it's because I know Jerry Langdon's work so well. I hope you will friend me on Facebook, with your mother's permission, of course. I'd love to hear more from you, as you raise some interesting points. Although we have both suffered traumas, it's how we respond to the trauma that reveals who we are. The trauma doesn't make us change. It's our behavior that changes. By looking at the "demons" in our heads, in our dreams, in our nightmares, in our drawings, we look at our behavior. That we can change. You touched a nerve with me with your point about pandemoniums of parrots. Yes, we need to talk more. I, too, need to change. You're right: When people with shared traumas talk with each other, it feels like more gets done than meeting with "Shrinks". LOL. :)  Anthony

Norie Email:
We will talk more, sir. I promise. We need your help right now. Counseling only helps so much. Your "Shrink" doesn't seem to help you at all (my mom says that this is rude to talk to you like this, but that's how friends talk. I don't have a Facebook account. We'll have to be friends on your blog and my mom sends our phone number--she'd like to talk to you, too). I know we can help each other. I talked to Suzie and she smiled when I told her you were going to help. She hasn't smiled for a long time. It's good to have hope again. HOPE all capitals! 

The words are coming back to me. I wrote this poem for you. 

Like a Pandemonium of Parrots

Like birds, my wings take me
high, effortless, and fast 
I flip on my back in the ocean
of warm air that wraps me In strong arms 
Keeping me afloat, I spin to
look back down,
hidden in white clouds, 
From those below 

I flew away from your
scratching claws on the
I soar into the clear blue
above as your many eyes look
up high 
Search for me 
Your laser vision pierces the
sky, darts all around 
I am cloaked 

You want to steal the energy
from my feathers, 
I fly higher, you cannot pluck
the heat from me 
I see you crawl 
On the ground you dig, 
consuming all you find 
But not me 

I am free
by Norinko H