I usually blog about the concerts I go to, but I never wrote about the four shows I saw in November. My concert friend Jessie and I saw Marina and the Diamonds for the third time this year at Terminal 5 on November 10. As you can see from this video, we didn’t get there frighteningly early to get in the front row.
That was because we were conserving our strength (or, really, Jessie’s strength) for the next day’s Ellie Goulding show at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Ellie is Jessie’s big fave. She’s seen her numerous times and has befriended a lot of Ellie fans. I think Jessie and her out-of-town friends Wright and Beattie were on the sidewalk at 7 a.m. to get that front-row position. Knowing that they were in place, I showed up at 4 p.m. for the 7 p.m. door opening. How rude of me! Normally, I feel like it’s important to share the suffering with this kind of thing, but whenever I checked in, Jessie & Co. seemed to be doing okay without me. Once I got there, I was glad I was late because Wright and Beattie made me laugh so hard I would have been having painful facial spasms after spending an entire day with them.
With the fabulous @jessital7 @wright_wilson and @beattied24 after the @elliegoulding show tonight. Definitely the most fun concert gang ever. Sorry I didn't hug y'all goodbye, I hit a wall and just HAD to hop a ? with my pet ?. I miss you already!・・・#repost @wright_wilson Post concert buddy pic. NYC crew 2015. @jessital7 @wendybrandes @beattied24 #elliegoulding #amexunstaged
My group knew a lot of other Ellie front-row regulars there. I met people who’d seen her perform six times, 10 times, a dozen times. Jessie first met Wright through Ellie shows, the same way I met Jessie last year thanks to Eminem. Wright explained the passion for Ellie this way: “It’s not just about the music anymore. It’s the people too.”
Two days later, as I was sorting through my Marina and Ellie concert photos for the blog, the news broke of the terrorist attacks in Paris. When I learned of the massacre at the Eagles of Death Metal concert at the Bataclan theater, the first person I texted was Jessie. Right after meeting all the friendly Ellie fans at a relatively small concert hall in New York, it was easy to imagine that audience members could have been at the even smaller Parisian venue for the people, as Wright said, as much as the music.
That’s why I didn’t feel like writing about the show at the time.
As it happened, Jessie and I had tickets to two different concerts the following week. I recall a few moments of “Should we go?” but we overcame them. It’s not like we’re going to quit seeing shows. Besides, I always feel good about the security at Madison Square Garden, which is where we saw the Weeknd on November 16.
The next show was rapper Azealia Banks on November 19. I’m amused that I ended up there. When Azealia first appeared on the scene, I loved her. Then I hated her. Then, like a lot of other people, I was like, “Can she NOT pick fights on Twitter for a minute or two and make some music instead?” And then, over time, I realized I neither loved her nor hated her but was seriously fascinated by her. Like I always say, “Never Is the Next New Thing™.” Sometimes that applies to animal-toe shoes. Sometimes it applies to Azealia Banks.
But Azealia loves trouble — or trouble loves her — because earlier in November, she got into a ruckus with a security guard at a club and then canceled all of her tour dates, except the one Jessie and I had tickets for. That one was back at Terminal 5, the 3,000-capacity venue that Marina played. Terminal 5 is not a great venue unless you’re right up front or have a key position on the balcony. Security is unimpressive. Both Jessie and I were wavering over whether to go, particularly because it was pouring rain. At any rate, I wasn’t getting there early. I got there a little before doors opened and ended up about six rows away from stage left, which seemed pretty good for a show I wasn’t too excited about. I ended the night 12 rows back in the center because she had that crowd going wild. Azealia has got a lot of charisma and the second she hit the stage, I realized I should have been first in line so I could see her up close … and hang onto the barricade. Without an anchor I was flying hither and yon. Have you ever been to a standing show where the artist yells at the crowd to jump? I will usually humor the musician with a mild bounce, while thinking, “I’m too fucking old to wait hours to see you AND THEN JUMP TOO!” That didn’t work at Azealia’s show. It was much easier and safer to jump along with the crowd. Photos? Impossible.
After the one-hour set, I spotted Jessie in the crowd — we had arrived separately — and said, “What did you think?!” Jessie said, “It wasn’t her most energetic show.” I was like …
… because if that was Azealia’s low-energy show, I’m not sure I could survive her high-energy one. I’d certainly have to increase my jumping endurance in advance.
I went to plenty of other shows this year. In January, I saw Fleetwood Mac at Madison Square Garden for the second time…
… and got up close and personal with Billy Idol at the Beacon Theatre. Stacy caught a drumstick!
In March, I saw Bjork at Carnegie Hall and Marina and the Diamonds at the Rough Trade music store in Brooklyn. I just couldn’t quit Bjork because I saw her again in April at City Center (she was in a better mood that night!).
May brought Paramore to the Beacon Theatre …
Joan was opening for the Who.
At the beginning of June, I stood in a pool to watch Gavin DeGraw. A couple of days later, I met up with a jewelry customer, rapper Hi-Rez, at Webster Hall.
And shortly after that, Jessie and I hit the Governors Ball music festival where we saw — guess who?! Marina and the Diamonds …
… and Bjork.
The following day of the festival, we endured a day-long wait to be front row for Lana Del Rey. It was worth it. I’d do it again in a minute.
I finished up June in the general vicinity of Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, who performed together at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Ill.
September was an ’80s flashback, with second row at Duran Duran at Terminal 5 …
… and two Madonna concerts. I took Jessie to the first one at MSG, where I had my best Madonna seats ever, and I’m talking since I first saw Madonna in 1985.
I took MrB with me to my second Madonna show, which was at Barclays Center. I had floor seats again but they weren’t quite as spectacular. But I was ready for the crazy acrobatics during her song “Illuminati,” so I recorded all of that and all of “Iconic,” her opening song. I still watch those videos all the time! I was also in the right place at the right moment to catch Madonna’s dedication of “True Blue” to her old friend Debi Mazar.
I wore an original 1990 Madonna concert t-shirt to that show.
October got me to trek to Brooklyn twice, and not the easy train ride to Barclays Center either! First, I went to see my gorgeous jewelry customer Skylar Grey at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.
She opened for the X-Ambassadors, who were great, but I confess I was there for Skylar. She saw me waiting to get in and gave me a big hug and then said, “Oops, sorry I touched your boob.” And I swear, I was so surprised to see her that I might have said something bizarre like, “My pleasure.” Well, it’s not a lie. It is certainly my pleasure to have Skylar Grey touch my boob. Feel free, Skylar! (*Cut to Skylar running to get restraining order and finding herself in line behind Bjork and Marina*)
For Halloween, I organized a group of us to go see Ringo Starr at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn. Can’t miss a Beatle!
After that hectic November, I didn’t even check to see what concerts were going on this month. The sadness of Paris, and the Bataclan in particular, still weighs on me and I wasn’t in the mood for live music. But I’m looking ahead to happy things: I got my Rihanna tickets for a Barclays Center show in March and … wait for it … wait for it …
… I got my Adele tickets for Madison Square Garden in September. HELLLOOOOOOOOOO!
P.S. If you multiply the number of concerts I went to in 2015 by elebenty, that’s how many shows Jessie went to in the same time frame. She’s the concert queen, not me.