Nothing like a pandemic to make you appreciate every little good thing. And seeing Charlie Parr, Alan Sparhawk and Liz Draper live at First Avenue was no little thing. It was a gift!
Charlie Parr had planned (and had played) his normal January Sunday night residency – except the venue had changed, from Turf Club to First Avenue and until last night (Jan 17) it had been an online-only event. Subsequent to the pandemic rules changing a week ago, First Avenue decided to open up a few seats.
The show was amazing. I had seen Charlie and Liz play over the summer. (Actually saw Liz play earlier in the day at the Music Lab.) But this was different because Alan was there but also because this was the main stage. The king daddy of Minnesota stages! The sound was amazing. They played my favorite song – about Ed and the boat. They played new and old. Charlie shared a few stories between songs. Alan brought a little Low drone into a couple of the songs. Was it like dancing my heart out stage right at the Turf Club? No. Was it awesome? Yes!
This is the second time that the club has been open since the shut down in March 2020. (They were open on Halloween, again to a limited audience.) They had about 20 tables of two people each between the main floor and balcony. (We sat in the balcony.) Table service only. Limited bar options. That’s similar to the setup they had in October with one important difference. The room was dark and the stage was lit.
The stage was gorgeous. It shown like glass. The musicians were reflected it in! There were three well-spaced seats for each musician and floor full of guitars, basses and speakers. The music was terrific. For true music lovers – there was no chit chat from the tipsy folks in the back. No one pouring loud drinks. Parking was easy peasy. And no constant pushing to get to the front of the stage – in part because unnecessary movement around the bar was not allowed.
It felt like a weird, grownup VIP night. To be fair, it was priced that way too – but true music lovers have been saving a lot of money since the world closed down. Paying for the music and the venue is an investment in making sure they are all available for us later too! I see that the next shows are already sold out. I’m a little bummed out except that I decided it would be too piggy of me to go again when so many of us need a night like I had last night. But if anyone is listening, I’ll pay double to be able to dance just right of the stage, where Bart usually sits.
Thank you to everyone – musicians, folks at the bar, folks managing the bar – for an amazing night!