That was a helluva day. The only real downer was the fact that despite taking Nad's computer to the Geek Squad at the local Best Buy and paying top dollar to go to the head of the line and imparting an earthshattering sense of urgency to the endeavor, nevertheless, they failed utterly and were unable to restore it to properly working condition in a timely manner. Boo on them. So, that kinda put the band a bit into scramble mode trying to figure out how to cover the parts Nad would've played on keyboards as best as possible. They managed as I'll recount below.
After dropping Nad off at the venue I came back home and waited for the Best Buy call and to see who else I could round up to go to the show. Unfortunately, all my Blue Bang Theory mates were tied up, Waldon Reed, Jr., was engaged, my co-workers at Ford are for the most part, frankly, far too square to appreciate quality prog served up by experts, but my good friends Margo and Russ, the heroic folks who've been hosting rehearsals at their home for damn near any music project I've been involved with for most of the last decade, were game as per just about always, bless 'em, and they had a good friend in from California who was good to go as well. So, I had to stand by for the call from Best Buy, and as previously mentioned, when the call came the news was awful. I then hopped in the car, picked up the moribund PC, and popped over to Margo and Russ' place to pick them up and their friend Leeb. We shot downtown, got a quick bite to eat and then went to the City for the big night of prog.
Hmm, remember when I said there was only one downer. Just thought of another. There was only about 50 people in attendance. That was indeed a shame. And that's what I thought before I saw and heard the show. By the end, I thought it was in fact a horrible crime. Let me tell you. These guys are unbelievably talented. Of course, we all know and love Nad. I've been a big fan of his for about 7 years now and he did a marvelous job. His vocalizing was strong and assured and he puts on a fabulous show as well. He's playing with the big boys now and damn if he doesn't fit right in. As for those keyboard parts he was supposed to be playing, he had to dart repeatedly from front and center to the keyboard that was next to Roine Stolt the guitarist, and it was obviously none to comfortable not only with the moving to and fro and out of each others way, but trying on the fly to come up with a sound that was a reasonable facsimile of what Nad would've played if he'd had his own rig. But like I said, they managed. Back to Roine. What a fine player he is. Wonderful sound, totally cliche'-free, tasty playing and clearly a fine composer, as all the Agents material was penned by him. I love their CD and they performed most of it more than admirably. And in ways they were markedly better than the studio recording. And why was that? Two words: Lalle Larson. I've seen some fabulous keyboard players in my day and I can tell you with certainty, they got nothin' on this guy. Stylistically, they're worlds apart but I can think of 2 guys, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock, who also have first and last name same initials, that Lalle is on equal footing with. He was absolutely mindblowingly talented. On solo after solo he unleashed a senses shattering avalanche of blindingly fast notes, one holy shit interlude after another, and though the word is over-used and abused, awesome is really the best way to describe what he did. I purchased his solo CD after the show and I can't wait to dig into it. Bigtime praise also to excellent bassist, Jonas Reingold, and the stupendous Nick d'Virgilio on drums. And when the 2nd act played - meet the new band, same as the old band - Karmakanic, the lead vocals were taken over by Goran Edman who had ably provided backing vocals during the AofM set and was very impressive when he came out front. All in all, a spectacular night of superlative progressive rock...as good as it gets. And this coming from a guy who's seen King Crimson a half dozen times, the Yes, Gentle Giant, ELP, and many more over the last 4 decades. They were that good.
Picture of Agents of Mercy at Detroit's Fox Theatre
After the show, the band came out and did a nice long meet and greet with the folks who hung around and when that was done, the manager of the venue walked us over to the gloriously restored Fox Theater just next door to the City. He showed us around the place and we took some great pictures. Then, it was back to my place. We got here at very close to 2AM and after a quick snack it was right to bed because Nad had to meet the band(s) at the hotel at 9AM so they could hop on a bus for their gig tonight in the Pittsburgh area. It was a blast folks. Great to see Nad again, and so great to hear such wonderful music. Bravo!
Paul and Nad after the show, back at Paul's house