Tom Waits | 8.04.06

It made everyone there feel like they were part of some big secret party the outside world wasn't allowed to know about.


The Orpheum Theatre, Memphis

Tom Waits' shadowy figure appeared through the lit curtain, his arms stretched out like a scarecrow. The sold-out crowd at the historic Orpheum Theatre could already feel his overpowering presence. While the band started off with the opening notes to "Singapore," Waits busted through the curtain and marched to the front of the stage to show everyone he still has what it takes. For this reviewer, ever since the death of Johnny Cash, the office of the greatest American songwriter could only be filled by one man: Tom Waits.

The show in Memphis, like every show on this tour, sold out in no time. Even Waits himself pointed out the tickets for this show were gone in under 20 minutes. It made everyone there feel like they were part of some big secret party the outside world wasn't allowed to know about. The fact that Waits played for an astounding two and a half hours was icing on our cake.

From newer tunes like "Make It Rain" to the classics such as "Shore Leave," Waits touched just about every era from his repertoire. Starting off as just a frontman with his impeccable backing band, he rocked the stage like only he can: sporadically dancing to the beats and treating the microphone stand like a Polynesian hooker. After a while, Waits took a break and sat behind his trusty piano for favorites such as "Tango Till They're Sore" and "House Where Nobody Lives." This part of the show could have been longer, as it only lasted about four songs and was incredible to watch the man in his natural element. Before my jaw could be picked up from the floor, Waits was back to fronting his fantastic band.

While every song was a treat to hear, some of the memorable highlights were hearing the circus stomping gut-puncher "God's Away on Business." He even broke out some of the legendary spoken word numbers he's so well known for. It seems that every stop on the tour has its own personal Tom Waits talkie. In Asheville, N.C., he treated the audience to "What's He Building," while in Memphis, Waits served "The Ocean Doesn't Want Me" on a silver platter.

Waits only plays a handful of shows in a year. Getting the chance to see him live was something to never forget. On eBay, a ticket for this tour was going for around $400. While that's an outrageous price to pay for a any concert, the real sucker was the person selling the ticket, as he didn't get to see Tom Waits kick ass for almost three hours. Well worth every penny.

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