cocteaus in philly

From Benjamin Xavier Kim [email protected]>.

GREAT show, absolutely marvy. Elizabeth was going nuts--she was spontaneity itself. I personally dug her exercise in she was doing some kind of wild guitar solo with her voice. And she was quite animated, even dancing a bit to the music (which I always thought would be the natural thing to do, considering the beats to some of their songs...really quite groovin', if you think about it...and it puzzled me when people had told me before how the 'Twins just stood still during their shows). However, Robin's effects seemed to conk out intermittently towards the end of the show. I was afraid he was just going to have the band leave without doing any encores, but he was luckily in good enough spirits ... or something... to trudge onward. The playlist wasn't overly saturated with "Four-Calendar Cafe" songs, to my delight. It seemed as if they were touring for "Blue Bell Knoll" and "Heaven..." as well as for the new one, with "Carolyn's Fingers" (sigh), "Ella Megablast"...etc., "HOLV", "Cherry-coloured Funk", "Pitch the Baby", "Road, River, and Rail"...and old stuff too. I couldn't believe they played "Whales' Tails"..that sounded really good with the full band. I thought that all of their songs sounded really good with the band...more dynamics, more of an organic sound. But damn, was it LOUD. I didn't expect a Twins show to be so darn decibel-heavy. Luckily (?), although Liz's voice did get loud at times, the guitar was just as. I still can't hear treble anymore...

Did it seem to anyone else that Robin had a very easy job playing live? Seemed like Simon, the drummer and percussionist, and the other two guitarists were really slogging out all the music...just an observation, not a criticism...

Moose was pretty cool, although I certainly wasn't in the mood for their kind of music at the time...they are quite mellow, but I really dig their sound. I was reminded of Slowdive, except that they had better songs. The acoustic guitarist broke three strings...three different times. It was somewhat amusing. The lead "ethereal-guitarist" of Moose told me later that their gigs are known for things going wrong all the time, so. I think their albums will be necessities. Nice tunes, good pop sensiblity. And I'm still kicking myself for not getting a shirt of theirs!

Well, I got to meet the Cocteaus (and Moose) in their dressing room backstage. Oh, rapture! How many times do you get to meet your favorite band after the first time you've ever seen them live? Well, obviously, only once, but that time was last night fur mich, and it was so delightful because the Twins were soooooo cool!!! I had my doubts, hearing all the rumors going on about how arrogant and insensitive they were...but I suppose that only applies to journalism and the Twins. Plus, when I saw Robin on the street before the show (and realized after he had passed just who it really was), he kind of gave me a dirty look, like he was gonna get me. But, you know. Maybe that's the way he always looks at strangers. He was a lot nicer in person, that's for sure. He told me never to buy Zoom processors, which was the one that failed him towards the end of the show (there's a nugget of info for ya, Brandon!). He also told me--for you guitarists out there--that he's got two chorus pedals and uses Marshalls for distortion (gulp!--moolah). The Zoom was just for delay. He said that London "sucks" (he lives there, and I asked him jokingly if it was as bad as they all say). I also saw him smoke a cigarette, something which he hadn't done in sixteen months or so. The drummer was aghast, and berated Moose's ethereal-guitarist for offering Robin a ciggie. It was quite funny.

Liz was very, very nice as well. I told her that I didn't know she was so spontaneous in concert. She said that she was just very comfortable. I told her that I was glad we could provide such comfort to her, and she laughed. I thought, "Wait a minute...these people aren't that bad at all! They're quite human, even!" Because Capitol nixed the idea of me doing an interview with them--they said that they were known to be arrogant, and that they didn't want me to come away from the experience hating the band (which IS a scary thought)...apparently, MTV pulled a 120 Minutes interview with them because "it was so bad"...and the guy at Capitol mentioned Mazzy Star in their roster of "shitty bands" that aren't media whores--I asked them questions under the innocent guise of curiosity. I asked her if she liked ABBA, and she did (not fanatically, but somewhat), but that "Head Over Heels" wasn't named that necessarily because of the ABBA song, and that "Blue Bell Knoll"'s sequenced riff did not come from ABBA's "Money, Money, Money" (listen...the same riffs in both songs!), but she thought that it was most likely accidental that Robin came up with it. I asked her if she had any certain things she did pre-performance-wise to ensure that her voice would be in tip-top shape. She said that she did scales, and tried to stay calm, and drank some mild tea with fruit juice because warm things help keep the vocal cords loose, etc. etc. So you vocalists out there, take note!:) She's quite a perky, fun's very hard to believe that she is already a mother. She is also amazingly short. But she has enough presence that one doesn't notice it until after she's gone...Harriet's short that the secret to a good band? Short female vocalists? Sounds good to me...Hope S. is not exactly a towering giant either...

And Simon was the most surprising of them all. He went over to the Cocteau's CD collection and pulled out Sly and the Family Stone to replace Mazzy Star (the new album) with, and started grooving to it. I couldn't believe it. How cool is that, eh? I jokingly asked him if he was influenced by the bass work on Sly's stuff, and he (of course) said not really...he doesn't listen for the bass work in the music he likes listening to, just likes to bug out to it. (Not his quote, mind you--if he said "It's a trip, and I can bug out to it", I would have died of shock) He said that this tour was the best one yet, very enjoyable. I asked him if he was "pulling a Liz" with his haircut, and I told him that it took me a couple songs to find him onstage because I was looking for the trademark spiky, gravity-defying do. He said yeah, it used to be huge, but I told him that Robin in the early days probably had him beat.

Other things of interest...apparently, Lincoln had done "additional engineering" for the Cocteaus ever since 1985! However, "you know, back then (when Robin was a heroin addict), Robin was on such a high...about doing everything himself" (Lincoln Fong) that he didn't really mention anyone else producing or engineering stuff on the albums. whoever said that they got "My Love Paramour" as an are wrong, according to the Cocteau Twins. Not on this tour did they play that, anyhow...

I had a very cool conversation with Lincoln about racism in the U.S. and England (he being half-Chinese, and I being all Korean). He says it's not that big of a problem there, and he doesn't get any hassles. I also asked him how his parents took his just rushing off to be an engineer/musician. He said that they're all right with it now, but that he'll "never forgive them for those two years" where they didn't talk to him, really.

This after-show thingie was so darn was like a regular party, except I didn't feel ignored or bored or anything. I mean, it was so friendly, and it took me some self-restraint to just break down and cry to Robin, "Why are you talking to me as your equal? Condescend, act fey, evade questions, please...what is this???" It was so cool...and when, before, I asked Robin who Lincoln was, and the Moose acoustic guitarist who was with us said, "he's my brother", later on, when I was talking to Liz, Robin brought Lincoln over for me to meet. I mean, it was such a good vibe. I came away from that with a very good taste in my mouth. Just hangin' with the Cocteau Twins, you know? Gosh...they were soo nice! I just couldn't bring myself to act stupid. Other people were like oh, your music is so transcendental or something like that...but seeing the Twins as real people who were very affable...I couldn't do it. Sure, I thought that, but if they were going to chat with me like I was a friend, I wouldn't drool on them. That would be rude.:)

Plus, it was funny to see Moose so bombed. They must have started drinking as soon as they got off-stage.

Sorry if this bored any of you...I just felt the need to share, and to show that the Cocteaus are quite nice and charming people. Why, Robin even did a WXPN interview that day, which even surprised the Capitol fellow that was at the show in Philly. This tour must find them in a good mood...or at least, better than others...

Ethereally yours


The Cocteau Twins. Dammit, they care.

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