Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Scott Kelly + Orthodox at Santiago Alquimista, Lisboa / March 7th 2011

Listen, even if a lot of you reading this don't even know me, you all know Neurosis are more important to me than any band or artist should ever be to anyone. I have very nearly every bit of plastic/vinyl they've ever released (and of their assorted alter-egos and spiritual brothers and sisters as well), I own shirts and hoodies, I've flown to two different countries to see them play, they're obviously my number one artist on my last.fm, I've interviewed them and written about them for several magazines. Hell, I even discovered recently that I'm quoted on their wikipedia page, and I swear it wasn't me who edited that shit, I only do that on pages of football players I hate to add the list of horrendous diseases I wish they'd catch. I like to think that I'm not biased whenever I voice an opinion on any Neurosis-related matter, but I probably am just a bit. It's a bad thing to admit for someone who needs to voice independent opinions for a living, but what the hell. They've earned that right through more than 25 years of relentlessly essential work. 

So, in spite of all that, I'd really really really like to state that the sappy text I'm about to write regarding what happened last night in one of Lisboa's prettier gig spots isn't just the product of a deranged fanboy mind. It was that special.

Please don't take this the wrong way, I'm not bragging about anything, because I don't really do anything. I'm not a musician and I'm not talented in any way whatsoever. But I am a lucky fuck. I've been around. I've seen literally hundreds of gigs from wildly different artists in wildly different settings. I've been to the opera in St. Petersburg and I've seen crust bands whose name I can't pronounce tear up basements in Munich, I've seen Elvis Costello at a concert hall, Leonard Cohen on a giant riverside open stage, singer/songwriters from the Faeroe Isles on tiny pubs in Helsinki, and I've been smashed against fences by huge Slayer moshpits when I was young enough to not know any better. Most bodily functions have been activated by live music at some point in my life - I've been moved to very real tears by Nick Cave or Michael Gira, I've puked in the rain while Tool played louder than seventeen ManOwaR gigs at once and I've bled all over my Dark Tranquillity t-shirt after an airborne foot belonging to a stage diver pushed my camera into my forehead at a Sacred Reich gig at Wacken. I've seen the most passionate reactions on and off stage to music - from people crying along to Vinnie Cavanagh during a particularly intense rendition of 'One Last Goodbye', to Watain and Impaled Nazarene fighting punks, to people kneeling in prayer at one of Celtic Frost's last gigs (I kid you not). I'd even seen Scott Kelly himself play his acoustic show twice already before last night. Of course, it's not that much when compared to some of you wonderful people out there in this business whom I admire, look up to, read and listen to every day. But it's more than I ever thought I'd be able to when I was a kid, and apart from my very few but very treasured loved ones and a selected highlight reel of football moments, this is the stuff that'll go through my head right before I die, and I hope that in the next few decades I'm healthy enough to add to those experiences a whole bunch more. Yet... I've very seldomly witnessed a bond between one performer and his audience like I did last night with Scott Kelly and the couple dozen people who showed up.

It's the absence of anything really flashy or obvious that really nails it from an emotional standpoint. The room wasn't packed, very far from it. Scott didn't say or do anything spectacularly different from his usual persona. After Orthodox played their wonderful gig (I'll talk about them in another post in the next few days, if y'all don't mind), he sat down, he played his raw, emotionally affecting, simple and yet unfathomably deep songs, some new, some old, some from other people (Townes Van Zandt and Hawkwind), he told us a couple of stories like the one where he wrote one of those songs in a dream, he thanked us all from the heart and we replied with a few appreciative comments and jokey replies to what he said and did and roaring, equally from the heart applause. He was polite and available to everyone who approached him before and after the show. 

...and that was it. Still, I believe I speak for most of those present when I say that something strangely magical happened in there. Some unbreakable bond was formed during that hour and a bit, something that no wide-eyed hack like me will ever be able to describe properly. That's the most apt and to-the-point description of the concert, and I'm glad I was just the photographer and I'm not the one reviewing it for any magazine, because I would never be able to. Besides providing me and all the others there - a salute to your respectful and devoted behaviour, audience people - this unforgettable evening, Scott also played my favourite song, 'Catholic Blood', that you can see in the video up there, and took a photo with mr. fanboy journalist here. I believe the technical term for my expression on it is 'happier than a pig in shit'. Both were taken by Luana Magalhães, the most appropriate company I could ever require for the occasion.

Thank you, Scott.


  1. Just feel proud to have been there. At first I was a bit puzzled about why would Scott Kelly find that to be a great audience, but as the show went on I figured it out.

    Nowadays, I seldom feel the need to speak to the artists and when I do, I don't feel awestruck or anything. But with Scott I definitely did, had to shake his hand, thank him for the music and everything and wish the best of luck to him and his family.

  2. Considering i live in India I will probably never see Neurosis, Scott Kelly or any of the Neurot people doing their thing. Being obsessive record collector and fan will have to do but thank you for this. you write superbly and gave me a vicarious thrill. Thank you.