Even diamonds in the rough sparkled

Even diamonds in the rough sparkled
Sunday, December 28, 2008 3:20 AM
By Aaron Beck

The Columbus Dispatch

JAMES D. DeCAMP | Dispatch
Nov. 21: Brian Johnson and his AC/DC mates perform at Value City Arena, in a show that sold out in 15 minutes.

Elvis Costello
An Australian band sold more than 18,000 tickets to its show in 15 minutes, a growling neo-Vaudeville act sold tickets to his first-ever show in Columbus and a Solitary Man’s subpar show resulted in refunds for one and all.

It was music in Columbus 2008, and, through the eyes and ears of this reporter, it unfolded in the streets, at the desk and in the concert halls something like this:

• Girl, You’ll Be Refunded Soon: From the moment he said, “Hello, Columbus” Aug. 25 in Value City Arena, anyone could tell that Neil Diamond’s laryngitis-stricken voice was wrecked.

Midway through the show, more than 100 people stood in line for refunds — a rare scene.

Rarer yet, the next day the Diamond decided to refund upset ticket holders who witnessed him croaking his way through Solitary Man and Sweet Caroline.

In a statement that was as much a work of art as is his latest album, Home Before Dark, Diamond said: “Please give me a few days to figure out how to make it up to you. I haven’t let you down before, and I won’t let you down now. Until you hear from me again, remember, You are the sun, I am the moon, You are the words, I am the tune. Forgive me. I love you. Neil.”

By the cutoff — Sept. 5 — Diamond had given refunds to almost all of the about 11,000 people who had paid $19.50 to $120 (plus “service and handling” fees).

• From the Department of Scary Press Releases: At 11:25 a.m. April 8, this e-mailed horror or horrors arrived: “Toby Keith joins Wayman Tisdale on remake of Barry White’s hit Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up.”

• Loudest record of the year: Rip It Off, by the Columbus band Times New Viking. That gnarly thing sounds loud and fierce even when it’s still in the vinyl sleeve. Great melodies — if you have pitchforks in your ears to sift through the calculated messiness.

• “Wow” moment of the year: AC/DC selling more than 18,000 tickets to its Nov. 21 show in Value City Arena in 15 minutes. Who knew so many people yearned to hear Back in Black again?

• Did I do that? A field trip that still makes me scratch my head — a Saturday afternoon with the Jonas Brothers at Net Jets headquarters. The boys, in town for a concert that night (Aug. 23), goofed around in a flight simulator while reporters and photographers stared at one another in a conference room.

• See you at the indie-rock lounge, aka, the Wexner Center for the Arts: From Fleet Foxes and These New Puritans to No Age and Times New Viking, the Ohio State University institution was indie-rock headquarters.

• Tickets? You didn’t need no stinking tickets: When Tom Waits scheduled his first-ever show in Columbus (June 28, Ohio Theatre), another Columbus first arrived with him: the anti-scalper, ticketless concert.

Patrons arrived with IDs and credit cards to lease a seat for the night. From what readers told me, the process was painless and smooth.

• He sold his soul down at the Crossroads — the crossroads of Jamba Juice Avenue and Super Tan Street: When svelte David Lee Roth sung-spoke, none of the sights and sounds appeared to be human. It was as if Jack LaLanne had gone animatronic and was spitting out the lyrics to Runnin’ With the Devil.

• Brand-name band trumped by brand-name opening band — the Police/Elvis Costello and the Attractions, May 4, Nationwide Arena: One fan e-mailed The Dispatch that the Police set “was like watching a DVD of a concert rather than a concert.” But Costello earned repeated standing ovations for the way he attacked his vocals during a tight 50-minute set.

• Record on my desk that I’m afraid to listen to because nothing on it could be better that its title: I Love Jesus, But I Drink a Little by Gladys Hardy

• Record on my desk that I’m simply afraid to listen to: Hair Braider by R. Kelly

• Record on my desk from eons ago that I can’t stop listening to: Party Down by William “Little Beaver” Hale

• Most insane thing anyone said to me: “I’m into Nickelback just the way we all are.” — Barry Manilow

• Quickest response by a rock star when asked what subjects he writes about: “Sex, death and war. And justice. There’s no shortage of lyrics there.” — Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead

• Dawn of a new age: Summer 2008 marked the first one since 1994 that central Ohioans lived without Germain Amphitheater. For this reporter, who had seen shows there since 1997, it didn’t feel like summer.

The outdoor-concert void, though, was filled beyond capacity with shows by the Raconteurs (June 9, Lifestyle Communities Pavilion), Stone Temple Pilots (May 17, Columbus Crew Stadium’s new permanent stage) and the Black Keys (Oct. 9, Lifestyle Communities Pavilion).

• Billy Gibbons Week ’08: ZZ Top played Oct. 5 in Cleveland and Oct. 10 in Columbus. Onstage in the Palace Theatre, guitarist Gibbons said he spent some of his downtime at the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Wexner Center, in the Short North, around the Santa Maria and on ” High Street — which is where I always need to be.”


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