Television – Live at Variety Playhouse

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My concert buddy mentioned Television as one of his favorites.  At face value, I, and most people, would agree.  But he was talking about a band named Television who played in the 70’s and had some influence on other bands, particularly in the use of rhythm guitar as a lead element, referred to as an “interlocking” style. 

The band has had an off and on history, and is apparently now “on” as a concert was scheduled at my favorite Atlanta venue.  Was I interested?

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Well... it’s a weeknight.  The price was agreeable, though.  But it’s a weeknight!  Oh, and another friend was coming?  Also, we’d be going to the Wrecking Bar Brewpub (subject of another blog shortly) prior?   Arm only mildly twisted, sure.

I listened to the band’s albums on Spotify.  There’s only three of them, from 1977, 1978, and 1992.  There was certainly enough to like – fairly straightforward rock presentation, none of the songs were bad, and some of them had pretty good hooks.

And... I’ll put you on hold for a minute.

Always check the fine print.

Shannon Wright, 4 out 4 concert goers agreed, was the worst opening act... ever.  Sure, she can play different instruments.  But her talent was as visible as her face, which was constantly hidden by locks that seemed a tribute to Jimmy Page, further obscuring her face as she crept around the stage bent at a 90o angle.  I get that she plays to a perceived deep, counterculture vibe.  I don’t have to like music to appreciate it.  But there was nothing to appreciate.

She finally slunk off the stage, and there were maybe a couple people of applauding, which is appropriate as she’s apparently now a hometown girl.

I don’t go out of my way to bash opening acts, folks.  I look forward to them.  Everyone starts somewhere, and she did something right to get this far.

So, shortly after, Television took the stage.

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I would recognize only a couple of their songs through the evening, but my ear caught on pretty quickly to guitarist Jimmy Rip.  As it turns out, he’s played with Jagger, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Debbie Harris, so he’s been around.  He’s also really, really good.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen someone play a Telecaster live, at least for more than a song.

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The concert ended seeming somewhat brief.  It was a work night, so I was okay with that.  Later investigation revealeded that the set was two songs shorter than their stop in Nashville a couple of nights earlier, namely “Glory” and “I’m Gonna Find You.”

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On the other hand, maybe they hadn’t turned into a jam band at the previous show.  They made lots of space for the guitar interplay between leader Tom Verlaine and Rif, and, from the vantage of someone who wasn’t yet even a casual fan, played an excellent show, far better than just playing their old songs over again.  It’s great to see and hear older bands play who still have a point to make.

It goes to show that everyone should have a concert buddy (or at least a music buddy) to expose you to new artists, or, in this case, a Television show you would have otherwise missed.

Setlist:

1880 or So
Venus
Elevation
Prove It
Little Johnny Jewel
See No Evil
Torn Curtain
Persia
Marquee Moon

Encore:

That’s All I Know (Right Now)
Psychotic Reaction (Count Five cover)

3 of 5 STARS

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