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The Jim Carroll Website Home > Research > Performance Reviews > Review of Jim Carroll and Band at The Bottom Line (1998)

Jim Carroll and Band at The Bottom Line

New York City, 12 November 1998 (first Show)

I'm not much of a poetry lover so my review sticks mostly to the music.

My friend, Kevin, who was at the show with me, wanted to see the Jim Carroll Band back in the early 80's nearby at Lafayette College, but I was not a fan at that time and we didn't go. Since this was his first band performance (and maybe last?) in 12 or 13 years or so, there was no way we were going to miss it.

We arrived 20 minutes early and got a seat right up front and almost center. When I saw no table or podium, I got excited thinking we were going to see an all music show with no poetry.

The band finally came out 10-15 minutes late and Jim did start out with some of his readings to backround music. He looked nervous and his hands were visibly shaking. His voice didn't know it, however as it boomed through the place. I don't know the titles, but the stories were pretty humorous. I thought I recognized some from his diaries, but can't be certain.

After a couple of stories, he put the books down and the band got ready to play. Jim made a comment about this being the part where "I shit in my pants." They began with Catholic Boy. The band did a great job recreating the way the song was played by the original band. I was most amazed by Jim's voice. I couldn't believe the way his voice boomed while singing, almost exactly the way it sounds on the album from about 20 years ago. They followed this song with a new song, "Desert Town," from the new CD. This was also done superbly as the band got to play one of its originals.

As Jim sang he never looked in the audience. It seems that he has two or three places he stares at with great intensity while he sings, either because the songs have great, deep, emotional meaning to him or because he was trying to remember the words.

After these 2 songs, he did a few more readings from various books of his. They then did a set of 5 straight songs: "I Want The Angel," "Lorraine" (from Dry Dreams album), "Hairshirt Fracture" (new CD), "Wicked Gravity," and "It's Too Late." These were done superbly for the most part. During the start of "Lorraine," when he sings "I was underneath the staircase", the band seemed to delay on getting to the strong part. It seemed liked Jim looked back at them as if to say "what's going on?", but the delay was only about 2 seconds and he turned back to continue singing. Also, during "Wicked Gravity" (my personal favorite) I could barely hear his voice -- the only song during the show that this occurred, possibly because the guitars are very loud during this.

He then proceeded to do a few more readings, none of which I know there names and then they did the 2 best songs from the new CD: Pools Of Mercury and "Falling Down Laughing," and they both sounded great with Jim doing his best vocals of the night on the latter.

They left the stage for about 2 1/2 minutes and came back out for the obvious encore. Jim first read a story: "8 Fragments For Kurt Cobain" that I heard him do on MTV already. This was intense. I wonder if he met or knew Kurt? Lenny Kaye came out after this and they did 2 final songs: "The Beast Within" which Jim said Lenny helped write on the new CD, and they ended the show with "People Who Died," the only song that Jim messed up the lyrics to. During the middle of the song, he began to sing the wrong verse and stopped himself and waved to the band to let them know. He walked around for about 8 seconds until he caught his composure and remembered the correct verse. I was close enough that I could of helped him out by shouting it at him, but was caught off guard and didn't think of it until too late. Besides this minor mishap, they still did a strong version of this song and Jim's vocals remained strong througout.

Altogether the show was about 80 minutes I would guess, but I definitely could have stayed for more. I suggested to my friend and his girlfriend that we should stick around for the 10:30 show, but their silence gave me my answer. If we stayed we would not have gotten to sleep until 2 or 3am and we all had to get up at 6am the next day.

Highlights:
"Catholic Boy," "I Want The Angel," "Falling Down Laughing"

Lowlights:
They did not do "I Write Your Name," "Love Crimes" or "Dry Dreams."

   

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