2019-10-13, Milwaukee WI
Irish Cultural & Heritage Center
Strings/Keys Incident Tour
Matrix of 3 Lossless Sources
SOURCE 1: docrupard Roland R-07 [mics = internal], first row left of stage, @ 44.1khz/16-bit (~60%)
SOURCE 2: roffels Roland R-07 [mics = SP-TFB-2HT True Fidelity In-Ear Binaural Microphones via SP-SPSB-4 battery box], @ 44.1khz/24-bit (~33%) (contrast clause: http://www.dimeadozen.org/torrents-details.php?id=659824)
SOURCE 3: J Michael Eugenio TASCAM DR-100 mkiii [mics = internal], first row center @ 44/32-float (~7%)
03 Leaving the City
04 Only Skin
05 Inflammatory Writ
06 In California
07 The Things I Say
08 Go Long
09 The Book of Right-On
12 Monkey & Bear
13 Time, As A Symptom
15 Good Intentions Paving Co.
16 Baby Birch
17 Peach, Plum, Pear
TAPERS NOTES (warning: filibuster ahead)
Taping, preparing, and releasing this show to DIME has been a labor of love.
First some background: I am an oncologist in real life, and hence getting time off to follow an artist around on tour is not generally doable. I live near Philadelphia and NYC, so was able to get to a few of those shows, obtaining two high-quality recordings from Philly (acoustics were great in the Kimmel Center, which is a concert hall) and one lackluster recording from NYC (I was front row center, but a mile away from the wall-mounted speakers). Because my lovely wife is from Wisconsin, we were able to attend one of the Milwaukee shows, and gambled on the second one, figuring that maybe this last performance of the "Strings/Keys Incident" tour prior to an extended break and trip back to the west coast would bring out something special in Ms. Newsom. Two daughters were with us, and we all kept an eye on the Chicago setlists leading up to the show, hoping that this would be one of the 50% or so of shows in which she played the transcendent "Only Skin", which had really taken new life on this tour as a stripped-down solo performance. We also hoped to hear "Go Long", "Easy" (a relative rarity for this tour), and either "Sadie" or "Swansea". When I saw the setlist on the first night in Milwaukee, I thought we might get lucky—none of those songs had been played.
We drove to Milwaukee on the day of the show, got there a couple hours ahead of showtime, met a few online friends in the very short line at the Irish Center, and then noted that a few peeps were heading from said line to a door in the back of the ICHC and not returning. Turns out there was a bar back there (at an Irish Community center?!? shocker!) and they let us in to hang until the back doors opened, which happened to be just a few feet from the front row. Score! J Michael Eugenio was hanging with us, and grabbed front row center with his companion. My crew of four parked near what appeared to be a speaker (proximity to which is the greatest predictor of a good recording). Unfortunately, that turned out to be a subwoofer only, with the main speaks up and to our left. These would have been reachable via the balcony (exactly how I captured the A+ SLC 2016 recording), but alas the balcony was closed. I then went into "problem-solving mode", walking all around the venue and making smalltalk with the Irish Center sound guy, who described to me the layout of all of the speakers, none of which were gonna be accessible. This discussion ended with me in "stop worrying about it and enjoy the incredible experience" mode, and I settled in my seat, pointing the R-07 at the speaker about 12 feet above and to my left for the remainder of the show.
And it was a great show. The audience was incredibly respectful. (Sole exception: the douchey dude behind us who spent the first three songs being vocally pissed off that he hadn't thought of going in through the bar, and hence ending up with "unacceptable" 2nd row seats.) Just before the show, one of my daughters "cheated" and took a very fuzzy pic of the setlist taped at the foot of the harp. After squinting, pinching/squeezing, we figured out that we were going to get "Go Long", and the "Sadie"/"Swansea" combo, but our beloved "Only Skin" was in torturous limbo. That laughter you hear after the first few "booming" notes on track four is the audience, and then Joanna's response to the admittedly incongruous fist-pumping coming from team Rupard, front row left (right in her line of sight for harp songs).
Also in "Only Skin", right after "hold your horses back from the fickle dawn" a baby wails, and then you can literally hear Joanna smile as she sings the "I have got some business" line. There is a perfect picture of this moment on one of the fan sites.
"Time, As A Symptom" has melded into "Anecdotes" throughout the tour ("trans-/sending the first scouts over"), proving the intentional circularity of the vastly under-rated Divers album. This is the only show I have heard where the audience just listens to this moment, without the obligatory applause. In case you haven't seen it, she also switches mid-song from piano to harp at the 2:40 point of "Anecdotes". This is accomplished by pushing the harp right up to the piano bench, and then a quick swooshing of dress and performer from pointing stage-left towards the piano, to the right and in position to play harp. (The reverse move is made at 4:45 during the line "Will you come down before the sun is gone?".) It was clumsy for the first show of the tour in Philly, and got smoother and more intricate as the tour continued.
The baby makes a grunting noise at the beginning of "Right-On" and Joanna again laughs. At the end of the song, she acknowledges "I agree with that baby. Bothe times she's made her little sounds, it's almost like 'I'm not sure about that'. Very good taste."
Anyway, enough of my yapping. This recording is a matrix of the raw wavs generously supplied to me by J Michael Eugenio, dime user "roffels", and of course my own capture. I imported all into Audition (OSX) and found that each had its own good qualities. My recording was closest to the source, and hence had nice immediate vocals. Unfortunately, my location was near an exit, which led to some creaking and low-level footsteps, audible at times during quiet passages. Dime user roffels' recording (available on dime as I write this) has really nice ambiance, capturing the feel of the venue quite well; however, it is just a bit distant. J Michael Eugenio was located in perfect position to see the show, but not as good for taping, as the venue is quite wide, and speakers were at either side. Again, though, it caught the audience and room very nicely, and picked up some of the un-mic'ed JN vocals and instruments. This matrix mixes about 60/33/7 between the three, with roffels' recording a bit more prominent on the right than the left. The result was a substantial boost in the clarity of the vocals (and loss of echoey "boom"iness), with even the between-song banter easily audible. In short, the mix of the three recordings gives me a real "being there" sense; with my headphones on, I am back in Wisconsin, sitting in a pew, enjoying the experience.
Thanks as always to the generous roffels and J Michael Eugenio who shared their recordings with me, and to all of those who shared recordings of shows I could not attend. On a personal note, I am a lifelong music junkie who was belatedly (2010) introduced to Joanna Newsom by my daughters. Her beautifully freaked-out oeuvre has become a wonderful shared obsession for our sweet family of six. This matrix took a while to come together, and nicely documents this wonderful performance. I hope you like it.
Images for all shows as well as full size images for this show.
Images for this show: