As 2013 rolls in, Changeover Music will change its format a bit. It will return to its Tuesday slot starting next week, but instead of focusing on one song, I’ll be picking a new batch of tunes every week. Also, the last Changeover Music of the month will be focused on an entire album. I’ll keep an eye on new releases, but I’ll also be picking old favorites.
For this week’s edition, here are five songs performed live in pretty spectacular fashion and in no particular order:
The Cure – “Gone” (originally on the album Wild Mood Swings)
This video brings together three things that I love: The Cure, this song, and Jools Holland’s show. I remember picking up Wild Mood Swings at some point during 2006 in Argentina, and I remember thinking at the time that I couldn’t have picked a more appropriate record for the way my year was going. I remember falling in love with “Gone” immediately. It’s essentially an anti-depressant that lasts four and a half minutes (and one you can keep using over and over again). The main bass riff is just wicked fun, as are the two climaxes. And Robert Smith just kills it on this version, delivering those fantastic lyrics with exactly the perfect mix of enthusiasm and passion. The energetic brass section also shines.
Wye Oak – “Civilian” (originally on the album Civilian)
Here we go to another venue that I absolutely love: NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concerts“. On this occasion, Baltimore’s Wye Oak stopped by to try out some new material, both from an upcoming EP and this mysterious song from what ended up being their 2011 full length album. I remember finding this Tiny Desk Concert by chance, and being blown away by Jenn Wasner’s guitar playing. I also remember thinking – erroneously – that Wye Oak was this cutesy acoustic boy/girl duo. That couldn’t be further from the truth: they’re mostly an electric duo, and they’re a beast live. I’ve always said that watching Andy Stack handle drums and keyboards at the same time is worth the price of admission on its own. Back to “Civilian”: for me, this was the best song of 2011. The studio version is just an instant classic. What I love about this performance is how fresh the song feels, and how into it Wasner is. She absolutely shreds that acoustic guitar during it, while delivering those powerful lyrics like a medium delivers a message from the spirits.
Broken Social Scene – “Almost Crimes” (originally on the album You Forgot It In People)
I just found this by accident, and had no idea about the existence of the movie where it comes from (“This Movie is Broken”). Regardless, I couldn’t be happier to have found it. “Almost Crimes” inevitably gets me in a good mood – it’s just a ball of energy of a song. And on this occasion, Broken Social Scene is fully assembled, and hell bent on blasting it all to hell. They do, naturally.
Gnarls Barkley – “Crazy” (originally on the album St. Elsewhere)
Cee Lo Green has gone through quite a transformation: from Danger Mouse’s sidekick to a contemporary pop culture icon and TV star here in the US. I prefer early Cee Lo, and this concert in the Netherlands back in 2008 showcases his power as a glitz-less performer, steering the speeding madness that is “Crazy” absolutely flawlessly.
Radiohead (Thom Yorke) – “Paranoid Android” (originally on the album OK Computer)
Neil Young puts together the “Bridge School Benefit Concerts” every year, and the stars always come out. Back in 2002, Thom Yorke did two solo sets there, and the second one ended with this, probably the only solo version of “Paranoid Android” out there. What I love about the bootleg version that I’ve been listening to for years is that during the previous song (the rare “True Love Waits”), some moron tries to boo Yorke near the end. I’m convinced Yorke listened to the heckler and decided on the fly to destroy everything with this rendition of “Paranoid Android”. I don’t care if I’m wrong: I like my theory better than any possible reality.