LA House of Blues
Russell Crowe and The Ordinary Fear of God -- March 9 th and 10 th, 2006
From Riley Magnus
If you’re hoping for a concise listing of the songs performed, how many times Russ giggled or how long the performances at the LA House of Blues went on each night, be warned and look elsewhere. These two performances of Russell Crowe and The Ordinary Fear of God were my first experience of seeing the remarkable man live and in person, warts, multiple personalities and all . . . and nothing in all my years can compare to it. This is less of a report, and more a listing of intense observations.
For my dear friends with all those odd questions: no, I didn’t notice a torn jacket pocket and yes, oh yes Billy Dean was absolutely fantastic, physically and musically. Russell offering his heart to us all and generously sprinkling his joyful passion among the smiling faces he had specifically requested the lights be brought up so that he could see, is by far a not-so-ordinary live performer backed by a damn good band. He gives the word charisma more depth of meaning than Webster ever imagined.
The extent of my musical report is as follows. The man kept my heart pumping to the beat with a pulsing one-handed clap of his left hand during the ballads, and he snapped, crackled and popped my imagination with sharp finger snaps that set the tone for “Testify”. But words escape me regarding the beautiful and heart-gentling performance of the surprising (to me) “Breathless”. This was not what I expected, not a love ditty or poem set to music. It was not a collection of pretty words about a pretty woman, and Natalie, my dear friend beside me in the sweating crowd stated it most clearly. “Breathless” isn’t a song at all. Written by Nick Cave, those lovely lyrics offered aloft Russell’s veracious resonance make this simple song . . . a perfect prayer.
Things I wish I could share first hand with all of you include the pure expression on Russell’s face as he gazed up onto the balcony and told Dani that he loved her; the playfulness of the now patented Crowe Late-night Television Evangelist persona confessing his sexual adoration for Shelly Winters in her “Poseidon Adventure” performance with the wild-haired Gene Hackman; the extraordinary brilliance of his aura as the curtain opened ; the shocking, romantic impact of Russ’ voice speaking Italian for one brief moment during “The Land of the Second Chance” and how my knees gave way right there in the crowd.
The warmth of Russell Crowe’s personality and true heart was clear both nights as he drank red wine and offered a salute to his fans. It spoke of his real understanding of how the world works, that he knows where his center is and seeks it through events like this. One could sense his connection even as he turned his back to light one up, exhale, then turn again with a smile to inhale what he has earned.
Riley’s advice? Next time Russell Crowe and his band are anywhere within three thousand miles, take out a second mortgage, quit your job if you have to get the time off, but see what I saw, the true affirmation of a human believing in himself and the rest of us. Knowing what can really be. Don’t miss something so extraordinarily rare. Take a piece of the muse. He’s offering it like a big, tall slice of rich chocolate cake. Delicious and satisfying on many, many levels.
To those hard core fans out there who are getting a chuckle from my silly musings, have pity, I was a virgin. But even now after the experience, I will always be one of those opened types, awaiting that distinctive bellow from the spirit of the wild energy that is Russell.
And to the master on the stage . . . no, the word “mouth” doesn’t bother us in the least.
My best to all,