Tom Waits will never play in your town and you will never
see or hear him in a live setting. No. NO.
If you get over that fact now, it’ll simply prepare you to
buy this tour guide through Waits’ summer of 2008 soiree faster. This carnival
barking crooning carnivore and maestro of the swordfishtrombone
avantbossatangowaltz has mastered his particular brand of theater, noise and
nuance; its rich despair, its decadent yet romantic espirit, its yawning Brecht-Springsteen-Partchian
display; its comic belch – certainly more so than when he started touring this
sort-of clatter in 1985 with Rain Dogs.
(And yes, I saw those shows – several – and plenty before those too, so suck on
Since the start, Waits seemed to rely on bunk-male-ing
percussion and cranky guitars to raise his mournful, jarring melodies to their
heightened melodramatic dream-level. No more though. On the jazz-noir “Make it
Rain” (recorded Atlanta 7/05/08), the humpback swing “Singapore” (Edinburgh
7/28/08), the bleak and beautiful “Trampled Rose” (Dublin 8/01/08), there’s an
effortlessness between Waits and his tight six-piece ensemble that comes from
its master’s having lived within the roar for decades. He’s finally tamed the
Yet, one thing he’s never had to consider taming, since he’s
always had it in control, is the tall order story-telling department that fills
all of Disc 2’s “Tom Tales” and its 36 minutes and 10 seconds. As the spiritual
cousin to the mostly-chatty 1975 Nighthawks
at the Diner that was recorded live in the studio over two nights, the 2008
version features a huskier-voiced Waits but one no less sprightly and at
ill-ease with his wise-assed tomes of the raw, the ribald, and the Dada-like.
And no – I won’t tell you what is on it. Seriously, it is much better to be
Standout Tracks: “I’ll Shoot The Moon” (Paris 7/24/08), “Make It
Rain” (Atlanta 7/05/08), “Lucky Day” (Atlanta 07/05/08) A.D.