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Tom Waits live at The Rat Cellar, Phoenix Park
His body is the medium for that voice, which causes him to shudder and shake, as though frustrated by the limits of his corporeal prison.
Roisin Dwyer, 15 Aug 2008
Dinah Shore once said, “When he performs, it sounds as if the world has stopped at 2am.” And here we are, frozen momentarily in time with Tom Waits at his first Irish appearance since 1987.
The man’s body language is a system of hieroglyphic tics. For ‘Lucinda’, he writhes and twists, all sweeping gestures. For ‘Raindogs’ his arms are extended, palms upright, hands shaking like a southern preacher exorcising evil spirits. For ‘Falling Down’, his upper body snaps rhythmically in angular shapes to the beat of the snare drum. His body is the medium for that voice, which causes him to shudder and shake, as though frustrated by the limits of his corporeal prison.
Strapping on his guitar, a humourous tale about family reunions provides a segue into ‘Cemetery Polka’. Later, classic Waitsian patter: tales of eBay impulse purchases (parrot diapers, the last dying breath of Henry Ford sealed in a coke bottle). A sprinkle of self-deprecation too, quickly recanted: “This is a really cynical one, completely different from all the others. How does it begin? It begins like seven or eight other songs… I could go into any of them. (Laughs) They’re all good ones!”
The versatility and talent of Waits’s henchmen is most sublimely apparent in ‘Hoist That Rag’: Dubliner Patrick Warren’s exquisite piano, Vincent Henry’s playful yet robust sax, not forgetting the offspring — Casey Waits’s precision drumming and his younger brother Sullivan’s accomplished second tenor sax playing.
After ‘God’s Away On Business’ he moves to the piano and the first notes of ‘Tom Traubert’s Blues’ fill the Rat Cellar. And the world really has stopped. Except, that is, for a playful ‘Eyeball Kid’ (for which he dons a mirrorball fedora) and a transcendental, closing ‘Time’.