Monday, August 29, 2005

Ike Outtakes

The LAST time I danced in public (if you don't consider dancing nightly in front of three startled kitties being in public) was with the chief election official in Blue Earth County. So when the two of us were recently in Beverly Hills at a banquet where there was a cover band playing lots of Motown my last dance partner told me she expected an encore performance. Fat chance. Those that know me best (probably said kitties) know that if there is one thing I dislike it's like calling attention to myself. With my natural jerky movements (plenty have made fun of the way I walk) that go along perfectly with my natural jerky behavior, I'm not one who will be hitting another dance floor any time soon.

The one time I went to a high school dance was when Sharon Streif asked me and we went and she spent most of the evening with her friends and I spent most of the evening with mine. When the last dance was called I grabbed the nearest chair and halfway through the chair became my dance partner as I spun it around myself as I did a happy lil jig.

I mention all this because last Saturday's Ike Reilly performance at the Minnesota Zoo featured the Olympic Hopefuls as the opening act. I was looking forward to their performance having kinda grown fond of their peppy pop but having never seen them live they were better than advertised.

In a way it was the perfect match- Ike's brooding, angry, poetic pop played the role of Lennon to the Hopeful's peppy, somewhat silly, ever optimistically cynical McCartney like ditties. Midway through their set through a great great romp of "Drain the Sea" the sixth Hopeful came on stage dressed in a dress shirt, tie, and dress pants that contrasted with the other five Hopefuls who were wearing their trademark blue jumpsuits. This sixth Hopeful proceeded to dance with all the exaggerated movements I feature in own dance repertoire.

Later in the show this guy reappeared on stage and he motioned up to all the faithful Hopeful fans to come on down to join him in front of the band. The youthful throng did just that and spent the last few songs jumping up and down in place. It was enough to almost make your aging Asian cynic leave his front row seat and jump up and down with kids half his age.

I didn't quite muster up the energy to do that but I did go out the very next day and buy the Hopeful's CD, The Fuses Refuse to Burn. I haven't been able to stop listening to it ever since. Once again I'm reminded of McCartney's best pop efforts although I'm equally reminded of Crowded House a group I kinda always liked although I liked the Finn's songwriting better than I did the group's execution of the songs.

I'm not sure one will one will ever gain great insight to the meaning of life listening to the Hopefuls but a song like "Whisper" that so accurately recounts the universal feeling of being with one who secretly likes you but is petrified of being seen in public with you, that it'll probably send you back to therapy if you're in anything resembling a weakened condition. Likewise the opening track "Imaginary" features all the studio dubs and sounds the band can muster but that only adds to the lyrics about what it is like to dance with a chair.

The songwriting can be a bit too clever at times "You passed out... invitations to your show..." but seeing the band live the thing I loved most was that the group shared tambourine playing duties amongst themselves which indicates a healthy team spirit that would befit the greatest Olympic team. Listening to The Fuses Refuse to Burn in its entirety was a needed boost, a smile inducing narcotic just when I needed it most facing what might be a life change that blows beyond altering to let's start all over again.

Still if some opportunities that have arisen eventually fall by the wayside I think I may have found my next calling, the seventh Hopeful- the guy that sits at the side of the stage and takes it all in as he is wont to do.

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