Saturday, September 30, 2017

Alison Moyet At The Fonda | Lefsetz Letter

She told the audience to shut up. That she was 56 and might never come back so they’d better let her talk.

It’s not that they were rabble-rousing, lost in their own personal world, the assembled multitude was in thrall, shouting, interrupting, wanting to connect.

And you’d want to connect too.

The only other time I saw Alison Moyet in person was at a party in a backyard on the outskirts of London. She was standing alone, under a tent, sipping a drink, and I recognized her instantly, but I wasn’t about to talk to her. You learn not to, unless you’re introduced. You might get a warm hello, but you’ll get no conversation, none of what you need. She seemed an iconic, untouchable beauty, living on a pedestal.

But that’s not who she is at all!

I bought those records. That was the badge of honor, ownership. And you could not know the music unless you owned it. And your friends never did, nobody you knew was as into it as you. There were those Yaz albums, “Yazoo” in the U.K., and the solos, but then she disappeared, but I never forgot her, and neither did the rest of those in attendance.

That’s why I love living in the city. The opportunities. The other people who got the memo. Live in the hinterlands, the suburbs, and you’re a party of one, the only person in the know, alone, but move to the city and you find like-minded people and it’s so reassuring, but I did not expect Alison Moyet’s show to sell out, the hits were long ago, when was the last time she ever appeared here?

But the place was full. With a Gen-X demo, men and women, who remembered when. Not hipsters, there were some lumpy bodies, some people who’d sold out to the straight world, but when Alison opened her pipes they were in rapture.

So first and foremost it’s the voice.

And then it’s the charisma.

Everybody’s faking it. They can’t really sing. Your favorite acts have support, both live and recorded, and you go to the show and it’s a facsimile of reality, not the real thing.

But this was positively the real thing. Who is born with a voice like this? Who can develop a gift like this? Who can still do it as they grow older? If Alison Moyet were an American she’d be a household name, she’d headline all those galas at the Hollywood Bowl and the Kennedy Center, because that’s just how powerful and intriguing her vocalizations are. Husky and full. They’re not from another world, but ours. It’s like she embodies life. You’re astounded.

And then there’s her personality.

Some people don’t talk at all.

Others squeak out a few words uncomfortably.

Then there are the people who do the same patter every night.

But Alison was comfortable in her own skin. In between numbers she’d tell us what she felt, maybe a short story, and it was so INTIMATE! Like a friend coming over and sitting on your couch. But really more than that, the girl you always had a crush on, the one you viewed from afar, who you were suddenly in the room with, who fulfilled all your dreams, who was not airy, but breezy, you’d swoon.

And so did we.

The show was very basic. Alison and two men on keyboards, with one occasionally playing guitar. Along with excellent lighting. But there was no production, no big screen, nothing other than…

The music.

Just when you think we’ve lost touch…

We reconnect.

With recorded revenue substandard, with so much money on the road, people play the biggest venues available, for the gross. It’s a spectacle. And some music fits that paradigm, but most doesn’t. Most music is personal. You want to connect with the performer, be taken away from the everyday world, so many shows are assaults, circuses where they’re selling you stuff, notches on your belt documented on social media, but once upon a time music was just that, you went to the show for the sound, not the penumbra.

It was like that last night.

You’re sitting in the audience trying to figure it out, what makes Alison Moyet so appealing. She’s too old, her hits are behind her, why do she and her performance seem so positively NOW?

It’s her identity. She’s not stuck in the past. She’s in the present. Just like us. As opposed to acts taking you on a nostalgic trip to when, looking like they once did as you inhabit your sagging body.

She exudes charisma, you can’t take your eyes off her, as she dips, twirls and twists, but very subtly, sending the message she’s moved by the music, but she’s not dancing to impress you.

And she played all the hits. “Situation.” “Only You.” But the highlight was a song from the new album, “Lover, Go.”

It’s a slow march through the doldrums with a central power. We got it immediately. And you will too, when you listen now:

Lover, Go – Spotify

But I was waiting for one song, the opener from her debut solo LP “Alf.” The show was going on and on, and then…

The synths started to pound, the hook was indelible and irresistible, this was LOVE RESURRECTION!

What can I do to make light
Of this dull, dull day

We’d get home, in that pre-portability era, and we’d drop the needle on our favorite LP. We had massive stereos, with enough power and throughput to make the walls shake and the floors pulse.

What switch can I pull
To illuminate the way

It’s all so disheartening. Politics is fascinating, but endless retreads, nothing seems to change.

Show me one direction

And that direction is always art, we live for art, it’s the special sauce of life. Sure, nothing is more powerful than sex, but you don’t do it with the TV on, but you will put on your favorite record.

We all need a love
Resurrection, just a little divine intervention

God was shining down on the Fonda last night, intervening in this boring, overbearing, mixed-up, muddled world. He intervened in the audience’s lonely life and lifted listeners up via his disciple Alison Moyet. I may not believe in God, but I did last night!

I got a warm injection that calmed the pain. What more can you ask for?

Chalk one up for music.


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