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Michael Penn... Bunker Hill

Michael at "Largo" (6/10/03)

This is an excerpt from Jake's 6/11/03 posting on the Yahoo! PennList. Thanks to Jake posting the report there.

I'm not going to bother with a set list mostly because I don't really remember all the songs he played, but also because most of them were the same that he's been playing at the other shows.

The first thing I've got to mention was that Gary Shandling was in the crowd, which I found incredibly bizarre. I've never seen anybody look more uncomfortable in my entire life. Until he could secure himself a place against the wall, he looked like he was going to puke. Then he and his girlfriend left about halfway through MP's set.

Anyway, MP was in very good form. I've seen three of the recent Largo shows and this was my favorite. There was just a really light and cool vibe to the show that the others didn't have. It might have had something to do with the fact that I was standing for this one and sitting for the other two, but I think it was just the best show either way.

Comdian, Andy Kindler, opened the show with a very funny little set. He, of course, thought he was bombing, but the crowd seemed to like him a lot. He didn't kill like I've seen him do before, but he did really really well. He got heckled near the end of his set, and to continue that theme, MP asked Andy to heckle him throughout the show. He had some real winners, the best of which being "Which one of you is Mody?" It didn't really make any sense, but for some reason it was hillarious. I think it was because MP's drummer, Danny, kind of looked like Moby, but I'm not really sure. Another good one was, "Go back to Iraq," after Michael said that he wasn't sure when his next album was coming out, but that it would be before they found weapons of mass destruction.

Michael seemed pretty self conscious about the fact that he has given the same introductions to all his songs at all the shows so far, but nobody minded.

He did tell one new, really great story. It went something like this. He said he is a creature of habit and that he goes to the same coffee shop every morning. So a little while back he was there and a guy caught his eye that he knew was just bad news. He didn't know why exactly, but he said he was just striking and there was something about him. So he started writing about the guy and sketching him and he just couldn't focus on anything else. Then, suddenly, the guy grabbed a woman's purse and tried to run out with it. Only he was really half-hearted about it, and she just reached out and grabbed it back as he ran out. So she got it back, but the guy got away. At least that's what I think he was saying. It was a little confusing. Anyway, the police came to the scene and were asking around about the guy, and when they came to MP and asked if he could give them any info or describe the guy Michael said he was just like, "Here ya go" and handed over his notes and sketches. Then he said he had recieved a call that morning and he was going to go in for a lineup and he was really excited about it. Then he made the "chung, chung" sound from "Law and Order" to emphasise how into it he was.

All the usual suspects were there except for Aimee and Patrick. Jebin, Danny, Sheldon, and Buddy are the usual suspects by the way.

Highlights for me included Andy Kindler dancing like a freak for the entire performance of "Brave New World." It's pretty impossible to describe. It was at the request of Buddy Judge that Andy come up and lend his dancing talents to the song. It was sort of an Elvis-type, twist, go-go dancing insanity. Michael seemed pretty thrilled about it and had some trouble not laughing during the song. Ironically, it was the best vocal performance I've ever heard him give live on that song. He totally nailed it along with Buddy's harmonies.

Another highlight was a new song that I hadn't heard yet called "Automatic," which was soooooo awesome. It was really different than any MP stuff I've ever heard. It was all major chords and it was really upbeat and peppy. A real crowd pleaser, but still just a fantastic song. I can't wait to hear the album version.

And finally, the biggest highlight for me was that he played "All That That Implies," which might be my favorite song of his. He said it was a request and that he didn't really know it because he usually forgets his own songs immediately, but that he would give it a shot. Well, of course, it was pretty much perfect. I was so glad he finally played it. Every show I've gone to I've wanted to hear that song and he never played it. It was great.

So it was quite the night and it certainly was a good sign for the upcoming shows on the west coast. Hopefully this will get everybody even more excited about it. Though if anybody can ever make it to Largo for a show, I highly recommend it. There's no place like it... no place I know.


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