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23 September 2008 @ 05:09 pm
Song of the Week #25: Schrodinger's Cat "Loch Ness Monster"  
It’s been a couple of weeks since the last Song of the Week – ah life, it does get busy sometimes.

We’re back with a bang this week. Some of you may be crying out that you can’t duplicate an artist that already has had a song of the week, but heck, this is my blog and in the words of Cartman, “I do whateva I want!” So here we go (grab a bite to eat, this one is a long one).

Click here for the Schrodinger's Cat My Space
click on the last track in the player: “Loch Ness Monster”
Schrodinger’s Cat: Michael Horne – vocals / PJ Muller – keys / Paul Bremner – guitar / Mike Armstrong – bass / John Balducci – drums

The atmospheric beginning puts you right on the foggy shore
1:00 drums and bass add texture and drama
1:55 “thin line” increasing intensity – holds special memories for me of Rochester – chills everytime I hear it
2:10 “Hold my hand” – love it
2:20 interplay between all instruments
2:50 driving bass, guitar textures
3:40 beautiful vocal
3:53 riff to part II – put on your seatbelt
4:00 drums – go John
4:35 keys – go PJ
4:50 guitar – go Brems
5:15 keyboard/guitar harmony soloing
5:40 go Mike
6:00 go everyone!
6:22 wow

The studio version these days doesn’t do the live version justice with Brems’ guitar screaming with intensity, Mike A’s monster 6-string bass running everywhere, PJ’s furious finger soloing and atmospheric textures, John’s thundering drum fills, and Mike’s gorgeous voice and lyrics weaving metaphors through the murky water; but it still is brilliant!

I sent some of you this track last week when I emailed you about going with me or meeting me at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY for a reunion show of the mighty Schrodinger’s Cat! This is a band I was blown away by in November 1995 when they opened for Kansas in Poughkeepsie and was lucky enough to see them a number of times after that including a magical weekend with Marillion and John Wesley on Labor Weekend 1996. Their soundcheck in an old church-converted-to-theater in Rochester, NY that weekend stunned me as they threw out new material I hadn’t heard (“Headline” and “Same Old Storm”). The memories came rushing back on Saturday night as I waiting for them to take the stage at Reid Castle: the emotionally charged ‘final’ show on 4/17/99 in Poughkeepsie before Michael Horne left for California and then the official final show later that year for Wesfest, 11/20/99, in New Paltz. And now here I was, 9 years later about to hear those classics (in my book) again in a live setting. I don’t travel like I used to for shows, but the 300-mile round trip drive was full of anticipation and fond memories, and well worth every mile.

I saw PJ as I stepped up to get in, and we exchanged “hello’s”. He mentioned that rehearsal had gone well and they were looking forward to the show. They hadn’t played together in 9 years and they rehearsed as a full band for the first time on Thursday night, then at the venue on Friday and show day was Saturday. Early bird catches the worm as I plopped myself front row center, 15 feet from Mike’s mic stand – taking in the surroundings - what a beautiful room, John’s S’cat drum head – this was the place, pinch me – this is it! Mike walked through and stopped by quickly before bringing his lovely wife by a few minutes later – she had never seen him perform on stage so this was going to be a treat for her. He too was impressed that rehearsal had gone so well, no train wrecks, and it all felt so natural like it was 9 minutes, not 9 years.

The next few hours went by all too quickly.

Schrodinger’s Cat hit the stage and exploded into the first 3 songs from their debut. After the first song, “Human Nature,” the eruption from the audience was a mix of “I can’t believe we’re seeing and hearing this again” and “Hot damn! They just nailed that! How long have they been apart?” Susan Davis and Mike’s harmonies were sharp and the best I’d heard on that song before. While Tracy LaBarbra’s gorgeous voice handled Susan’s parts at Wesfest in ’99, when Mike and Susan sing together there is a special magic – “Butterfly” was jaw-dropping and worth the price of admission alone. After a blistering “Reaching for the Sky,” - featuring amazing guitar work from one of the best guitarists I’ve ever seen play live, Paul ‘Brems’ Bremner - came the moment I’d been waiting for since 1999: “Loch Ness Monster.” When it ended you could hear a pin drop – until a second or three later when we all recovered and started cheering wildly.

I could go into track by track detail or how much I love John’s cymbal work, Mike A’s bass runs and monster sound, PJ’s atmospheres and textures, his work on “Last Goodbye” and others, but I’ll spare you that…sort of. They played two tracks not released physically and never performed live. I’ve heard them a few times on their myspace so was somewhat familiar – that brought a sense of freshness, although the songs were originally recorded almost a decade ago – and they were equally as impressive. After a passionate version of “Last Goodbye,” which I’d never seen them do live before so that was a treat, Mike stepped to the mic and started the a cappella intro to “Freedom” that I’ve always loved and he nailed it. He hasn’t sung in 9 years? Unbelievable. Since the show I’ve been trying to think about what male vocalist I would call my favorite of late and I’m not coming up with anyone other than fellow Georgian, Angie Aparo. They ran through two Marillion covers at the end of the night including possibly my favorite song of all time, “Easter.” You’ve got to be good if I’ll sit through a version of that with anyone other than Steve Hogarth on vocals. Brems nailed the solo, it was brilliant. The triple-play at the end of the S’cat set (“Freedom”/”Same Old Storm”/”Shadow”) was like a dream come true – and hit 3 of the 4 I was hoping they’d round out the set with (“Headline” was the only song on my dream set list that wasn’t played – not bad at all).

It was a pleasure to talk to everyone a bit more after the show and catch up with John and Brems. Brems was working all night long as his new band was the other band on the bill ,so he was rocking some intricate fretwork all night! I hadn’t seen fellow Marillion fan, JJ since Wesfest ’99 (I thought we had at Porcupine Tree last fall, but I was wrong) and it was great catching up with him and finally meeting Don Becker. That video needs to be released!

A friend of mine asked how the show was and I told him that if there was a show conflict next month and I had to choose between Rush and another S’cat show that I’d have to go with S’cat at this point. I’ve seen Rush 29 times, and I can’t wait to see them another 29, but 9 years is a long time. My mouth hurt halfway through the show because I was smiling so much. It was so much fun to see the guys again and to see them having so much fun on stage together. It’s not easy organizing and rehearsing for a show when your members are in Seattle, Atlanta, and NY – but they pulled this thing off with flying colors – and I’m not just gushing on them because a couple of them receive visits regularly from me via this blog, but because their music has struck such a chord with me and they are such nice folks that I want to tell everyone I know that they kicked some serious butt!

I could go on more about the show, but this is a song of the week blog right? Not a show review and I’ve probably overstayed my inbox welcome already (but Izz put on a great show too and the dual band finale was spectacular!)

Human Nature
Reaching for the Sky
Loch Ness Monster
Silent Scream
Last Goodbye
Same Old Storm
Izz’s set
The King of Sunset Town – S’cat only
Easter – S’cat only
In the Flesh – S’cat & Izz for the rest
Hey You
Comfortably Numb
Red Rain

More Schrodinger’s Cat:
Stay on the myspace page check out “Fire,” “Headline,” and “Innocence”
For goodness sake – head to amazon.com to get some downloads from their 2nd release, Potter’s Field or check out the physical version here where you can check out 2-minute samples of a couple great cuts – including that great intro to “Freedom”