The Gories were sublime.
I'd formed a little thought in my head on the drive from Nashville to Memphis. I was hoping the Gories (who were supposedly going into the show with only one rehearsal under their belts) wouldn't be too bad. Everyone's heard the stories of their inability to play in tune, play in time or just simply start and finish songs at the same moment. Going into their two shows this past weekend I couldn't help but hope that I would at least recognize the songs through the caterwaul.
At the same time, there were grumblings among the super-snooty of not wanting to attend the show because "Mick knows how to play guitar now." Having a vague understanding of that statement myself I could understand where it comes from. The guy generally has his shit under control in the Dirtbombs and it'd be easy to ascribe that ease to the Gories.
So when Dan Kroha came up to me after the show and asked, as the utmost Gories super-fan (as big a highlight as any for me on that particular eve) what I thought, I felt happy and confident in saying "You weren't worse than you needed to be and you weren't better than you were supposed to be." To make the statement a little more clear, I say the Gories were perfect.
From the opening primitive three-chord rumble of "Nautiloid Reef" I was agog in disbelief. I'd been waiting at least ten years to witness Dan, Mick and Peg onstage together, most of the time believing full-well that there wasn't a chance in hell for it to happen. Others had waited longer…Larry Hardy who started In the Red Records with the sole intention of putting out a Gories 7" back in 1991 had never seen the band perform. Others had come farther…there were whispers of some dedicated soul who'd flown all the way from Brisbane, Australia for the performance. And I don't think he was disappointed.
Sure Mick's voice was totally blown out to Blacktop proportions and Dan sang a few of the tunes his pipes couldn't handle. There was significant downtime between songs with repeated requests for duct tape for Peg's hands and drums. There were definitely fuck-ups and the laughing and attempts to correct them were endearing. All of this was necessary and almost fail-safe.
With such roadblocks all those uninitiated to the Gories live experience (ie, most everyone there) got exactly what they would have back in 1988. That is, a balancing act, a band completely capable of being transcendent and terrible within the context of the same song.
Mick played Jack Yarber's Fender Jaguar. I missed the classic Kent Videocaster, but his sound is his sound regardless of axe and it was cute seeing him and Kroha play matching guitars. Dan did the blown-out harmonica on "You Don't Love Me" and surfed into the crowd like a rock star. They bungled the intro to "View From Here" while Mick's vocals took on a never-before-detected sense of "me against the world" that imbued the song with so much fist-in-the-air rah-rah that I just smiled as I, along with the rest of the crowd, ended the couplet "One of these days, I'm gonna shout, won't somebody open the world up" with a gutteral "AND LET ME OUT!"
I was in the middle of the crowd, dancing like a fool, sweating my ass off, happy as a clam.
Missed the first three songs on Saturday night. The Gories went on at least a half-hour earlier than they had on Friday. They played a fairly different set too…tossing in their cover of the Iguanas "Again and Again" and adding "Detroit Breakdown" and "Ghostrider" which I was secretly longing for. As Friday was a long time coming and a long night living, Saturday experienced a noticeable downturn in crowd enthusiasm, save for the crowd's rapturous replies to Mick's call in "Thunderbird ESQ."
The fifteen-year-old in me favored the debut performance Friday while the record collector in me preferred Saturday's performance. But with Mick pledging to have his voice in full-form for the show at the Majestic this week, coupled with a sold-out crowd of 1000+ and the Gories going on last and it's the Detroit show that I'm near-certain will be the tops of the US gigs.
Below is a list of all the songs, by album, I recall the Gories playing over the two nights. Also included is a probably never heard-before live version of the Motown classic "Leavin Here" as done by the Gories in Paris, France back on June 5th, 1992. Enjoy.
I Think I've Had It
Let Your Daddy Ride
View From Here
To Find Out
You Don't Love Me (You Don't Care)
Again and Again
Baby Say Unh!
Train Kept a Rollin'
Gimme Some Money
The Gories "Leavin Here" Live in Paris 6-5-1992