Sunday, April 28, 2013

rise and fall

 Bob went down last night. You could see it coming.

From the Stranger opener (who knew how prophetic?: "You know it's gonna get stranger, so let's get on with the show") through BE Women, Minglewood and He’s Gone, he was clearly not in good shape: barely singing, missing cues, hunched from the shoulders like an old man, occasionally correcting his posture only to slip right back into a downward stare. His guitar, normally pointing to 2:00, kept going to 3:00, then 4:00. He tried singing Me and My Uncle, but it turned into a version of the infamous El Paso incident at the Nokia a few years ago -- only this was worse, becoming more infirmed, not less, as the show went on. He staggered a couple of times, but toughed it out through “Dire Wolf” and “Mason’s Children.” He probably shouldn’t have come back for the second set.

But, as everyone knows with these guys, the “let’s get on with the show” aesthetic rules. Scarlet / Eyes / UJB / The Wheel came and went; Bob continued to list to his left, guitar at three, four and even five o’clock; a small stagger now and again, unable to lift his head. At some point during Scarlet you turn to a friend: “They should get him offstage; he’s gonna fall down.” And during The Wheel you know: “If the thunder don’t get you, the lightning will.”

The energy in those up-tempo songs kept him upright, but when they started the slowly unfolding Unbroken Chain, you knew it was going to happen, as he listed further and further to the left and finally went down at John’s feet. While the band played on.

Roadies came out and helped him up. He was finally propped up in a chair (after at first refusing to sit down), and it looked like he might even tumble off it. At the end of Chain Bob was helped off stage and the band exited.

You thought that was it, but the band came back out, minus Bob and did Stella Blue. Then China Cat with Jeff carrying the intro Bob guitar part. Then Rider. Encore: Built to Last.

Phil mentioned something about a shoulder strain or accident. He also said Bob was completely “straight,” which you took to mean he wasn’t drinking or drunk. Which makes sense. Bob was grogged out, not in a drunk way, but more like one-too-many muscle relaxers.

Let’s hope.

p.s. As was later revealed  (by John), Bob had a hurt shoulder, and  mistakenly took an ambien instead of a pain killer/muscle relaxant.  He was falling asleep on stage!  It was his choice to go on.

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